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Northfield, Ohio-Over the past few weeks in the Billings mid-west region a battle has been raging between Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola. Oh, not a physical one, but a competition which involved their trotters; Steve's, Kaffir Kemp and Michelle's, Better Call Saul. It seems that they have been trading victories."We've been going back and forth recently. I won last night with Kaffir Kemp and Michelle got me last week with Better Call Saul," Oldford explained. And in the two previous weeks victory was either Oldford's or Ruvola's. Oldford, reached by phone, related that because of constant rain last night the track was muddy and visibility was tough. "I'm still wiping mud from places I never thought I would have to," he joked. In the race last night over the muddy oval eight trotters lined-up behind the mobile starting gate and even before the field was turned loose two had gone off stride. "I fired-up my guy before the start because I wanted to be on the lead," Oldford said. "He has always had good gate speed and we cleared to the lead from the five-hole but we had to deal with Marvin (Raber with Mikey Hanover) who was on the limb. So I opened-up some daylight with hopes he'd get in behind me, which he did," But lurking behind Mikey Hanover was the betting favorite, Better Call Saul and when the leaders straightened up the backside Ms. Ruvola moved Better Call Saul off the pylons. However, Kiffir Kemp was up to the challenge and they battled all the way to the wire and the victory belonged to Oldfield's trotter who was a head better than Ruvola's as the finish line timer flashed 1:58.2. After a slow start Grana Padanno, who trailed the leaders by some 12 lengths in the early going, rallied to finish third for Dean "What Am I Bid" Beachy. Kaffir Kemp is owned by the Oldford Stable LLC and trained by Terry Deters. He returned an $11.00 mutuel by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

Columbus, Ohio-- Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, made a stop at Scioto Downs on Friday (Aug. 17) for a $7500 trotting contest in the Billings mid-west region and when the judges hung the official sign Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and Kaffir Kemp emerged victorious in a hard-fought stretch duel when they turned back Better Call Saul and driver Michelle "The Belle" Ruvola in a time of 1:57.2. Sent off as the 3-2 betting favorite Oldford sent his charge to the lead from the five -hole and they led seven others by the first stanza in :28.1. When Oldford tapped the breaks as the field headed to the halfway point Michelle Ruvola angled Better Call Saul off the pylons and they traveled alongside Kaffir Kemp as the duo passed the halfway point in :58.1. The two trotters were eyeball to eyeball past the three quarters in 1:26.4 and were still side by side through the lane. In the deep stretch Oldford's trotter hung amazingly tough and wouldn't allow Ruvola's charge to get the lead and at the wire Kaffir Kemp was the winner, just a head better than Better Call Saul Stemilt Touch finished third for Kelly "Sky" Walker. Ten days ago at Northfield Park Better Call Saul powered to the lead in the homestretch but this week his overland trip caused him to be a bit short at the wire. Or maybe Kaffir Kemp was just too mjch for him. The race winner is a 9-year old altered son of Angus Hall owned by Oldford Racing LLC and trained by Terry Deters. It was the veteran trotter's 6th seasonal triumph and 26th of his illustrious career. For Oldford, it marked his 136th career driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

Follonica, Italy...August 8, 2018...Attempting to protect their precarious lead in the Amateur Friendship Challenge between the USA and Italy, Team USA was able to do just that as driver Steve Oldford led the American contingent with a win and a second in his two drives, leaving Team USA with a 12 point lead entering the grand finale to be held at the famed Monticatini oval on Thursday. Round two did end in a dead-heat as both teams hit the wire in points together, but it was Oldford who enabled the USA visitors to retain their overall lead with a perfectly timed drive with Really DL, a gelded son on Equinox Bi. Really DL followed live cover in the extended distance event of 2200 meters (1.367 miles) to score in 2:50.2, a mile rate of 2:04 over the Ippodromo dei Pini track. Tuscany Club President Danele Orsini also had a win and a second in his two drives, helping Team Italy to that dead-heat finish. USA team member Joe Pennacchio lauded Oldford's drive lamenting, "This was a classic stretch battle as Steve (Oldford) and Danele (Orsini) went toe-to-toe right to the wire." The winning margin was a nose. The Thursday Monticatini finale will determine the champion of this year's Tuscany Friendship Amateur Challenge between the USA and Italy. Reported by John Berry Sent from Xfinity Connect Mobile App  

Pompano Beach, FL --- The USA, led by team captain Joe Pennacchio, has taken an early lead in the Amateur Friendship Challenge, held in Italy. The “Challenge” saw the USA sprint out to an early 25-12 lead in the friendly -- but hotly contested -- competition over the Italian Driver Club Veneto with Pennacchio, along with teammate Steve Oldford, winning their respective races, held at the historic, 120-year-old Hippodrome di Montebello, located in scenic Trieste, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Dr. Scott Woogen and Kelly “Sky” Walker completed the roster of Americans competing in the event. Pennacchio, who began his amateur driving career in 1995 with an initial win over Delaware, Ohio’s famed Little Brown Jug oval (with the now appropriately named Fox Valley Trump), has amassed more than 175 career wins and got the USA team off to a great start by guiding Rugiada Del Nord to victory in the 1,600 meter event (1.031 miles) in 2:07.5. Said teammate Oldford after the win, “Joe never ceases to amaze me. I am still waiting for him to reach his prime. At his age, 71, he has the light hands of a seasoned veteran half his age. He’s just amazing and I really don’t think he has reached his prime yet, especially after the way he drove that winner!” Oldford then was able to share the spotlight with Captain Pennacchio by driving Taiga Grif to victory in 2:06.5, using a big “double bubble” move around the final bend. The competition travels to the seaside city of Follonica next to compete at that city’s Hippodrome on the Mediterranean Sea before moving north to historic Mintecatini, near Florence, Italy. by John Berry

Yonkers, NY--"Smokin' Joe" Faraldo is a happy man. And why shouldn't he be? After all, the Queens, NY attorney just won the $15,000 CKG Billings Eastern Region Mid-Season Final tonight (July 28)at Yonkers Raceway when he guided Tough Get Going to a gate-to-wire triumph in a 1:58.4 clocking. "A win tonight and a catch drive on Thursday at Monticello (Raceway) where I finished second, heck, things are really looking up," chuckled the Queens, NY attorney who has been a premier supporter of amateur racing since its resurgence in the early 1980's. Faraldo, a Billings member from its inception and founder of the North American Amateur Drivers Association, is getting to show that he really knows his way around the racetrack. It's true, he was the National Amateur Driver of the Year in 2000 and a winner of 144 pari-mutuel races (2 this year in Europe, also), but the move he put on Wygant Prince's and "Coach Paul" Minore tonight which kept them locked-in until mid-stretch was almost professional and saved the victory for Tough Get Going. "We were on the engine all the way and Paul had Wygant Prnce on my back from the start," Faraldo said. "When we rounded the final turn Annie ("Get Your Gun"Stoebe--with Uriel) was on the outside and I kept backing into her trying to keep Paul's horse from seeing daylight. But finally, in mid-stretch, Wygant Prince shook loose and came charging but my horse hung tough and we won it by neck." Winwood Scout garnered the show dough for David "Poppa" Glasser in the non-wagering contest Faraldo co-owns the Tough Get Going with the horse's trainer, Richie Banca. Meanwhile, later in the evening at Northfield Park in Ohio, a 9-horse field in the mid-west region of the Billings Series went to post and when the judges hung the official sign the odds-on favorite Utopia and driver Steve Oldford rallied late to overtake the pacesetter, Winback Charles M ("Lawbook Larry" Farley) and go on to a 1-1/2 length victory in a 1:57 clocking. In that contest Farley sent Winback Chales M to the lead from the pole position and they rumbled by the first quarter in 28 seconds flat and were still two lengths to the good as they passed the halfway point in :57.2. At that point Oldford got Utopia in high gear and with a three-deep move up the backside they were two lengths off Winback Charles M as the field passed the third stanza in 1:27.2. As they rounded the final turn Farley's trotter braced for Oldford's charge but Utopia was too much to contend with and he went on to victory. Winback Charkes M held on for second money while Michelle"the Belle" Ruvola finished third with Better Call Saul. Unlike the Yonkers Billings the Northfield Park Billings was a wagering affair and Utopia paid $2.60 for win. The 7-year-old Mutineer gelding is owned by Oldford Racing LLC and trained by Terry Deters. For Oldford it was his 5th seasonal driving victory and 135th of his amateur career. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series    

Goshen, NY--On the sweltering Saturday afternoon of June 30th in Trot-Town USA with the temperature hovering in the mid-90's two Billings divisions went to post over Goshen's Historic Track and when they were declared official Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo each emerged victorious in their respective divisions. Oldford winning with Starsaboveallerage in 1:58 while Faraldo scored behind Tough Get Going in 2:00 flat. And although each contest had short fields action was intensified when each winner scored a tight nose decision. In Oldford's contest he sent his trotter to the lead from the two-hole and they carved out fractions of :29.2; :59 and 1:28.2 with "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio and Cheeky Little Minx shadowing the leader's every move. However, when Starsaboveallerage rounded the final turn and headed for home he was quickly joined by Cheeky Little Minx and the two trotters raced for the wire head-to-head and nose to nose and when the photo was deciphered Oldford's trotter was a nose better that Pennacchio's. "My horse went a game race and he hung tough when we were challenged by Joe's horse( Cheeky Little Miss) in the deep stretch. And we were so close at the wire I wasn't sure who won it,"Oldford said and the added "I was happy to hear the announcer call my horse the winner." Third place some 4-1/2 lengths behind the top two was Connie Keeper, driven by Scott "the driving doctor" Woogen. Oldford Racing owns the winner who is trained by Allen Sisco. In his division, Faraldo gunned Tough Get Going to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded but yielded command to Winwood Scout and driver David "Poppa" Glasser before the quarter which was clocked in :28.2. "I really had no other choice but to grab leather and let Glasser take command or else he would have run me down," Faraldo said. "We got over to the half in :59 seconds and I was still comfortable when we passed we three quarters and I sat in until we rounded the final turn at which point I moved to challenge and we cleared Glasser and braced for a challenge from (Matt) Zuccarello (with Gianni) Like the previous Billings event it was a two-horse charge to the wire and so close a photo was needed to declare a winner. Gianni was a nose back at the wire and Winwood Scout faded and finished third. Faraldo co-owns the winner with trainer Richie Banca. And for "Joltin' Joe" it was his first winner on American soil this year after having had two victories in France earlier this season. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Lexington, Ky-- Patience my boy is what Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford was probably telling himself as he sat calmly in the catbirds seat with Gonna Fly as "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and Pine Tab, slugged it out with Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel's Tinder in the Billings trot at the Red Mile on Thursday evening, September 28. And after early fractions of :27.4 and :55.2 the leaders were all in. The speed duel up front was what the doctor ordered for Oldford as his charge enjoyed cover all the way to the top of the stretch before they rallied between horses to take command of the nine-horse as they headed for paydirt. Then in the deep stretch Oldford and his trotter went on to a solid 1:55:4 victory over "Hot Rod" Debeck's Fairground Drama as the race leaders faded. Third place went to Moon In My Shine with Julie "the former Hawkeye"Miller subbing from Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg who was still in Florida working to help locals damaged by the recent hurricane . "Allen Sisco,( the horse's trainer) shipped him all the way from Yonkers for the race tonight and though we've (Oldford Racing) owned him for nearly a year this is the first time that I sat behind him," Oldford said referring to Gonna Fly. "We sure got lucky with Hannah and Gregg going at it and they carried us to the homestretch where I found a seam between horses and when it opened I pulled the (ear)plugs and Gonna Fly exploded. I mean he really took off and we were easy winners." Sent off as the favorite in the race from the seven-hole Gonna Fly returned a $4.60 mutuel As aforementioned , Gonna Fly is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Allen Sisco. For Steve Oldford, a former National Amateur Driver of the Year, it was his 12th seasonal driving victory and the 128th of his amateur career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

The Midwest region of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series moved back to harness racing roots on July 24th when five members ventured to the double oval at the Fowlerville (Michigan) Family Fair for a trotting contest and when the judges hung the official Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford was victorious with The Budster in a time of 2:03.3. The 12 year old altered son of Broadway Hall notched his fourth seasonal victory and the 46th of the veteran trotter's illustrious career. The Budster pretty much had things his own way after leaving from the two hole. Oldford used the front-end en route to victory over Gespacho and driver"Jerry the Jet" Mihelic while third place went to Truth In Action with Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel at the controls. It was a reunion of sorts for Oldford and The Budster.who are together again after a long hiatus. "During his 3-year old season we (Oldford Racing) had owned The Budster and we won the Old Oaken Bucket with him at Delaware, Ohio that year.," Oldford related. "He had raced real well for us and we sold him after his 3 year old season. "Jessica Schroeder, now with the USTA, used to rub The Budster when Pete Foley was training him for us back then. Late last year Jessica called and told me that The Budster was headed to the Amish and since the old guy was so good to us way back when I decided to buy him and race him in the amateur series in Florida this past winter," Oldford explained "And we even won a few races together at Pompano (Park) earlier this year." Oldford was excited to tell The Budster story and even more excited about the way the old fellow trotted to victory Monday night at the Fowlerville Fair. "Although his recent form hasn't been real good he was super tonight at Fowlerville. So much so that I may even drive him in some future Billings races," Oldford said jubilantly. By John Manzi for the Billing Series

USA’s Steve Oldford won the first of two harness racing USA vs. IT amateur trotting events at Follonica Italy over their 1400 meter course. The first event was raced over 1600 meters autostart distance for €3,850 purse and Oldford’s Ralph Malph KYU (7g Uronometro-Edizone As-Friendly Facer) roughed it to the front around the final bend and went on to an easy 1.15.3kr victory. Scott Woogen of the USA was second driving Prinzy Bee Power. Oldford finished second in the next amateur race (purse €5,060, distance 2200 meters autostart) behind Polpettine, four lengths off the winning Rabat dei Greppi. Non-amateur races on the good card were named after CKG Billings, Florida Amateur Drivers Club, Capital District Amateur Drivers and the United States Trotting Association. Thanks to all for conducting a fine event.       2 16.05 - PR. TROFEO ITALIA-USA I PROVA - invito gentl E 3.850 - mt 1600 - Trio     1° 7 RALPH MALPH KYU   S.Oldford 15.3         2° 2 PRINZY BEE POWER   S.Woogen 15.7         3° 3 SBIRULINO GRAD   M.Gradi 15.8         4° 4 RARA DEIMAR   G.F.Kersbaum 15.9         5° 6 TIBET DEI GREPPI   N.Del Rosso 16.6         6° 1 RADAMES EGRAL   J.Pennacchio 16.7         7° 5 O*MAGIS EPI   D.Spriggs 17.3           8 TIBERIO ALEX   D.Orsini R.P.                     4 17.00 - PR. TROFEO ITALIA-USA II PROVA - invito gentl E 5.060 - mt 2200 - Trio     1° 8 RABAT DEI GREPPI   N.Del Rosso 15.8         2° 4 POLPETTINE   S.Oldford 16.2         3° 6 RAJAH PETRAL   St.Baldi 16.4         4° 3 NOODLES BIEFFE   D.Spriggs 16.7         5° 5 RENOIR GRAD   M.Gradi 16.8         6° 2 RIENDA SUELTA   R.Frassinelli 17.1         7° 7 TOMORROW ZS   J.Pennacchio 19.0           1 OBAOBA   S.Woogen R.P.         Thomas H. Hicks  

NAPLES, Italy - The second day of the competition in the USA vs Italy Friendship Challenge proved nearly fruitless for the visitors but with Hannah Miller's third place finish in the race saved face somewhat for the visitors. With incredibly sunny Italian sky's overhead, the USA-Italy Amateur Friendship Challenge concluded on Sunday (May 1) and though uneventfully on the racetrack, at least for the visitors, every moment was cherished and will forever be remembered by all the participants.. With all the events contested in the four race competition the Italians prevailed with three wins to the American's one, which came from a heads-up drive by Dein Spriggs, USA Team Captain Joe Pennacchio said of the Friendship Competition, "We couldn't be happier with the races and hospitality shown to us and we expressed special thanks to track, (Ippodromo di Agnano) owner Pier Luigi D'Angelo, who went overboard making us welcome." Hannah Miller led the Americans with a third place finish with 31.5 points and received a trophy to mark that occasion. The competition point leader was Italy's Ciro Ciccarelli who finished with 60.5 points. "You really have to drive the horse. They need lots of help at the start and in the turns and if your horse breaks (stride) you are disqualified. So I was careful," Ms. Miller explained. "The Italians drove like a team and did a lot of blocking to clear their better horses," added USA team member Steve Oldford. "Ciro had the best showing by winning two races. "We had a great lunch after the competition with all the drivers and our new friends and enjoyed the 67th edition of the Gran Premio Lotteria Di Agnano which was won by Oasis Bi, who was driven to victory by Johnny Takter, Jimmy's brother." by John Manzi for Team USA Amateur Drivers

The Italian Amateur Friendship Challenge officially kicked off with a gala dinner hosted by the mayor of Naples Italy, Luigi de Magistris on Thursday. Pier Luigi De Angelo principle owner of Agnano race track in Naples, guided the invited American amateur drivers to this event held at the elegant Belvedere Carafa Museum in downtown Naples, Italy. "The people and the food are over the top and the majesty and history of this area goes back thousands of years," team correspondent Steve Oldford said. Festivities will continue when team America will dine with their Italian counterparts prior to the racing action which begins Friday afternoon and continues through Sunday when track hosts the world class $500,000 trot, the Grand Premio Lotteria. "There's no doubt that amateur racing is moving to a new level and we hope the events here in Naples will continue to promote amateur racing at a world-wide level, " noted team USA team captain Joe Pennacchio. When the races get underway Friday at Agnano, Pennacchio and Oldford will be joined by Mike Mitchell, Dein Spriggs and Hannah Miller. The five outstanding American amateur drivers will compete against the best that the Naples area has to offer. Two events are slated for Friday with a race on Saturday and one on Sunday, the day of the Gran Premio Lotteria where the attending crowds will be in the tens of thousands. by John Manzi and Steve Oldford

The C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series kicks off its 35th season at Pompano Park on Sat., April 17 followed by a contest at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday. April 20. Then, almost weekly, there will be races for amateur drivers at various racetracks in the United States and Canada through late November. Again the Billings will be run under the auspices of the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association. The series which began in the early 1980's is considered the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing. Known for its constant traveling sideshow over the years some of the best amateur drivers in North America compete, or have competed, in it. And because of the success of the Billings Series it has spawned various local amateur driving organizations. "With amateur harness racing at a near frenzy pace, the Granddaddy of them all, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Association Series is getting ready for yet season of racing action," noted Steve Oldford, the vice president of the Billings Series. The Billings starts with the first travel series races at the Isle of Capri at Pompano Park, in sunny Florida on Sunday, April 17 and then moves north to Monticello Raceway on the following Wednesday (April 20) for the first leg in the series eastern region. The mid-west region opener is slated on Sunday, April 24th in Ohio at Miami Valley Raceway." Due mainly to the success of the Billings Series amateur racing has now become integral part of the sport. "This year amateur racing action has been complimented with weekly record braking handles in races at the Meadowlands and at Pompano Park. Wagering was also strong in the recently completed races in the NAADA Trotting Series at Yonkers, Freehold, and Monticello," Oldford added. "Amateur racing has never been more popular than it is now" interjected Tony Verruso, the CKG Billings Series president. "Just look at the handle at the amateur races and you can see we are a good bet. "Various amateur clubs are now organized to help maximize the number of races we can get; add benefits to the tracks that host us; create an incredible comradery among the amateur drivers and benefit all of the charities each club represents. "Tens of thousands of dollars are raised each year through amateur driving for the benefit of each clubs charity. The CKG Billings is proud to contribute its driver's earnings to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum. "We are again this year going with the five separate series format," Verruso added."We believe it was well received by members new and old last year so we thought it a good idea to give it another whirl". Verruso is referring to having five divisions of short series instead of having a seven-month year-long event. The Eastern Regional and the Midwest Regional will each have two short series and there will also be a Travel Series. And each will have series ending finales. Obviously, the eastern division will encompass racetracks in the east while the western division will feature races at tracks in the Midwest. There will be a travel division with events in both East and Midwest and a few racetracks in Canada will host Billings events thus making the Billings a true international amateur series. "The beauty of this format will allow everyone to race in any division. However, the points earned in each division will be calculated in that division only," Verruso explained. "And the European Point System will again be used to tally each participant's points. "On the whole, participation was definitely up last racing season and we did also get some new quality members. Our goal this year is to continue that trend and we hope the new slot money being infused into Ohio will go a long way to rebuilding that driving base for us in the mid-west region." Again there will be Billings Gold and Silver Cup Finals at the end of the season and they will take place at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday, November 20. As usual, only drivers can be nominated to the Billings Series; horses have to meet the certain series criteria. A complete listing of conditions and nominating costs can be had by contacting Verruso at sulkyracer@hotmail.com or Billings Series VP, Steve Oldford at steveoldford@oldford.biz. One can also get pertinent information on the Delvin Miller Harness Driving Series on the USTA website under amateur racing. But remember, nominations by mail close on April 18. However, late nominations can always be made but at an additional cost. by John Manzi for the Billings Series  

Jeff Cypher went from the 2015 United States Trotting Association Standardbred Driving School to the winner’s circle. Again and again and again. The 74-year-old Cypher, who lives in Michigan, decided to become a harness racing groom following last year’s school and with the assistance of USTA Director and Driving School mentor Steve Oldford landed with the stable of Kevin and Marie “Ginny” St. Charles. Cypher was nothing more than a harness racing fan when he attended last year’s Driving School, but thanks to his experiences in the program was able to start jogging horses in the St. Charles Stable from Day One. “What I learned at the school expanded into real-life experiences,” said Cypher, who received his trip to Driving School as a Christmas gift from his daughter Becky. “We had a great time at Driving School and I wanted to pick it up one more level. I don’t think I’m going to be a trainer, I’m getting too old for that stuff, but this keeps me out of trouble. I have 12 or 13 win photos from last year, so we’re doing all right.” The 17th annual edition of the USTA Standardbred Driving School will be held at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, Delaware, Ohio, home of the Little Brown Jug, June 1-4. The school begins Wednesday evening (June 1) with a welcome reception/dinner and special keynote speaker. Classroom and hands-on instruction will be conducted each day Thursday through Saturday. In addition to offering basics for driving and training, the school’s curriculum has been expanded to include information on ownership of Standardbreds. Registered students will also receive a sales rebate offered by select Standardbred breeders/consignors redeemable upon transfer of ownership of the horse into their name. More details will be made available at a later date. Join the fun and excitement in this one of a kind opportunity for educational and hands-on experience. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. There is a registration fee of $350. Students must provide their own transportation and lodging. Most meals are furnished. Recent editions of the Driving School were conducted at Goshen Historic Track, Mark Ford Training Center, and the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. The Cyphers spent their time at the school in the stable of Mark Ford and received instruction from caretaker Christy Turner. Becky, who lives in the state of Washington, also got a groom’s license and helps her father when visiting Michigan. “It’s nice to go to the track and work on the other side of it all; it’s kind of cool,” she said. “Dad just took off with it. They’ve been very good to him and he’s enjoying it.” Added Jeff, “I would highly recommend to anyone to take the school. It really helped me. I found each place you go, everybody kind of has their own style, but we blended pretty well with Ginny and Kevin. I’m not getting paid, but I enjoy doing it. I’m keeping out of trouble.” For more information about this year’s Driving School, or to enroll online, click here. Those interested in attending should not delay; enrollment is limited. by Chip Hastings and Ken Weingartner, the United States Trotting Association

Right on the heels of two regional mid-season finales the CKG Billings amateur driving series returned to its roots for a competition over the double oval at the harness racing meeting at Livingston County Family Fair in Fowlerville, Michigan. The fair, which has been thrilling locals since 1887, once again offered a full card of 17 harness races on Monday afternoon, July 27 despite the reproachful racing climate in the Wolverine State. And to the delight of local amateur drivers one was for Billings members in the Midwest region. Of course where ever there's a chance to drive a spirited Standardbred it's a good bet that Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford will avail himself an opportunity to compete. Joining Oldford in a quest for a victory were Jerome "Call me Jerry" Mihelich, " Lightning Larry" Steenbergen, Patrticia "the Write Stuff" Miller and Kelly "Sky" Walker. In that contest Oldford was up behind Gespacho , a trotter trained locally by June Du Russel. When the starter said go, Oldford sent his charge to the front and made every pole a winning one en route to an easy 2:05.4 victory over Beauty Chip and driver Jerry Mihelich. Hay Look Out finished third for Pat Miller. "I can't say enough good things about June Du Rusell," Oldford said after the race. "She's always helped the amateurs by supplying horses for us to drive" "She's just a great gal." " And there's no secret about the state of racing in Michigan but we're hopeful that things will get better in the future." It was the third seasonal triumph for Gerspach, a 7 year old altered son of Holy Guacamolie and his 21st in 87 career outings. For Oldford it marked his 11th seasonal driving victory and the 108th of his amateur career. The next Midwest region Billings action will be at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park on Saturday, August 1. That same night there will also be a Billings trot at Vernon Downs in the series east region. John Manzi

There are few amateur harness racing drivers who log as many miles as Steve Oldford. The automotive manufacturers rep from Croswell, Michigan thinks nothing of hopping a plane to race in an amateur contest no matter where it is. On Thursday, July 23 Oldford winged his way to Monticello Raceway to drive in the final leg of the 10-race NAADA Spring Series and his efforts paid dividends when he guided the Dan Gill-trained Up Front N Crazy to a romping 14-length victory in a time of 2:01. Although Up Front N Crazy was sent off at odds of over 9-1 he won like a 1-5 shot. But there were extenuating circumstances. When Matt Zuccarello's trotter Gray N Cloudy-- 5-2 on the tote board--made a break on the first turn it scattered the field and allowed Oldford's charge to open up daylight on his competitors. However, Oldford's luck continued when Joe Pannacchio's Sir Winston, who was following just two length behind Upfront N Crazy as the two passed the half in 1:00.4 had nothing in the tank. "My horse was empty at that point," Pennacchio said of his veteran trotter who came into the race with two consecutive wins in the NAADA Series. "He must have bled?" Pennacchio assumption was correct because at the third stanza Oldford's trotter had a seven length lead which was opened to 14 lengths at the finish. "I skirted the trouble in the first turn and we trotted clear and when there was no one around me as we headed for home I actually thought there might have been more problems for those in the rears," Oldford said after the race. "But thankfully there were no more trouble." With Sir Winston fading as he headed to the three quarters it allowed the trotters in the back of the pack to gain ground quickly on him. Dave Yarock rallied the strongest with CSI What's My Name and they finished in second place while Nice Dream, driven by Gerry Fielding caught Sir Winston yards before the wire to take home the show dough. Sir Winston held on for fourth money. For the record, Picture Perfect, the betting favorite in the race driven by Hannah Miller, was interfered with by Zuccarello's breaking horse on the first turn and went off-stride vanquishing any hope of victory for Miller and those who wagered on him. Up Front N Crazy, owned by Edward Hall, paid $20.60 for win. A condition to the series stated that the drivers with the most points who participated in six of the 10 legs would be eligible to draw for an all expense trip to Mallorca and join NAADA team who will race against their Spanish counterparts in a Friendship Competition in mid-September. However, that drawing, which is forthcoming, will be announced at a later date by NAADA president, Joe Faraldo. As for Oldford, he's back on the road this time to drive in the CKG Billings Spring Final which will be contested over the five-eighths mile oval The Meadows tomorrow night. John Manzi  

Goshen, NY--- Joe Thomson, founder and co-owner of the expansive Winbak Farms breeding operation, was inducted into the Living Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Sunday night (July 5). Also receiving honors on the night were Living Horse Hall of Fame inductees Somebeachsomewhere and Deweycheatumnhowe; Communicators Hall of Fame inductees Bob Marks and Kathy Parker; Immortals Jimmy Jordan and Garland Lobell; Hall of Fame broodmares Art’s Vintage and Presidential Lady; amateur driving champion Steve Oldford; and 2014 Horse of the Year JK She’salady. Thomson and his wife, JoAnn, started Winbak Farm in 1991. Headquartered on nearly 3,000 acres in Chesapeake City, Md., Winbak Farm has been ranked the leading breeder more than 20 times in three different states or provinces and was U.S. Harness Writers Association Breeder of the Year three times in a single decade. In light of his success, Thomson was quick to point out that he has a crack staff at his operations in four states and Ontario. “I often think to myself, ‘What would you do without that staff?’” he said. “Well, you wouldn’t be able to do a lot of business. I would make an analogy to be like a guy in a canoe, in the middle of a lake, without a paddle. [He’s got] lots of ideas, but a failure to execute.” Thomson was introduced by fellow Hall of Famer Jim Simpson, president of Hanover Shoe Farms, making him a rival on the breeder leaderboard and an ally when the duo travel to Harrisburg, Pa., to remind state legislators of the benefits of alternative gaming revenue to the horse racing industry. “He built an outstanding broodmare band, well over 350 mares,” said Simpson before adding, tongue-in-cheek, “I’ve asked him how many mares he has. He won’t tell me.” Somebeachsomewhere and Dewewycheatumnhowe were 2008 Pacer of the Year and Trotter of the Year, respectively, with “The Beach” taking Horse of the Year. Brent MacGrath, who trained and co-owned Somebeachsomewhere with James Bagnell, Pamela Dean, Reg Petitpas, Garry Pye and Stuart Rath, marveled at how consistent the horse was during a two-year career in which he won 20 of 21 races, $3,221,299 in purses, and took a mark of 1:46.4 at The Red Mile at 3. “It really made me feel good that in his last race he appeared to be as good as he was the first day he stepped on the track,” he said. Local boy Deweycheatumnhowe was trained, driven and co-owned by Ray Schnittker, who kept the horse at his barn a stone’s throw from the Museum at Historic Track. He noted that the winner of $3,155,178 in purses, who he co-owned with Charles Iannazzo, Ted Gewertz and Frank Baldassare, was a favorite among his connections and even his competitors. “When ‘Dewey’ won the Hambo, Kelvin Harrison said that the roar from the grooms and second trainers in the paddock at the Meadowlands, he’d never heard that before,” he said. “It was a great honor that everybody was rooting for the horse.” Marks is a longtime writer, pedigree analyst and yearling marketer, and was introduced by fellow Communicators Hall of Famer, Murray Brown, of Hanover Shoe Farms. Parker, editor and general manager of The Horseman and Fair World magazine, was introduced by fellow Communicators Hall of Famer Moira Fanning of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown. Immortal inductee Jordan was a leading driver at Roosevelt Raceway in the 1940s and '50s. Horse Immortal inductee, Garland Lobell, was best known for siring the "Trotting Triumvirate" of Andover Hall, Conway Hall and Angus Hall. Broodmare inductees to the Hall of Fame were Art's Vintage, dam of world champion Vintage Master, Great Vintage and Ideal Vintage; and Presidential Lady, dam of 2014 Horse of the Year, JK She'salady, and North America Cup winner JK Endofanera. Oldford was honored as 2014 Amateur Driver of the Year, his fifth such award. The connections of JK She’salady were presented with the 2014 Delvin and Mary Lib Miller Horse of the Year award. by T.J. Burkett, Executive Editor, Hoof Beats

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