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YONKERS, NY, Saturday, December 16, 2017—Gokudo Hanover (Matt Kakaley, $9.80) inherited the pocket, then inhaled the leader Saturday night (Dec. 16th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s last-of-the-harness racing season $40,000 Open Handicap Pace. Sitting chilly early from an assigned post position No. 2, Gokudo Hanover watched from third as Bakersfield (Greg Merton) made the first lead. That one gave it up to Thisjetsabookin’ (Jordan Stratton) before a snappy :26.4 opening quarter-mile. Thisjetsabookin’ then hung Caviart Luca (George Brennan) for the holidays, prompting a :55.1 intermission. Shane Adam (Jason Bartlett) moved off the cones from fifth, going around a fading Caviart Luca and taking his shot at the lead in and out of a 1:23.4 three-quarters. Bakersfield, surmising the leader was done, extricated himself off the cones to get behind Shane Adam. Wrong move, as Gokudo Hanover took this vacated space. A resurgent Thisjetsabookin’ retained his stubborn lead off the final turn, but was about to get swallowed up by a pair to his inside. Gokudo Hanover rolled by, as did Killer Martini (Brent Holland), the latter whipping the former by a couple of lengths in 1:52.4. Thisjetsabookin’, Shane Adam and a belated 5-2 choice The Real One (Pat Lachance) picked off the minor awards. For third choice Gokudo Hanover, a 5-year-old Cam’s Card Shark gelding co-owned by James Craparotta, Pat Berry Racing & Triple D Stables and trained by Scott DiDomenico, it was his 10th win in 34 seasonal starts (four wins, a second and a third in last six tries). The inside-number exacta paid $80.50, with the triple returning $294. The Raceway’s 2017 season concludes late Sunday morning (Dec. 17th), with first post at 11:30 AM. The 11-race card features seven ‘French’ trots (races 5 through 11), the ‘New York, New York Double’ (Aqueduct’s 3rd race, Yonkers’ 6th race) and a mandatory Pick 5 payout (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11). Frank Drucker

ALBANY - The owners of Yonkers Raceway are considering various options as they look to develop the 100-acre site that's home to Empire City Casino — including possibly moving the 118-year-old harness racing track to another location. In recent months, there has been increased discussions about moving the harness track to Belmont Park on Long Island as part of a plan to eliminate horse racing at Yonkers and Aqueduct in Queens as a way for more amenities tied to their casino operations. "We have discussed it at some length, and we’re actually advocating such a maneuver because it would free up the land for Yonkers. It would free up Aqueduct for a convention center that the governor has been advocating for for some time," said Joe Faraldo, president of the state's Standardbred Owners Association, which represents the harness horsemen at Yonkers. "Both of these properties would be shovel ready for expansion, and our concept was that the revenue stream that comes from the casinos that go to racing would follow us over to Belmont Park." Yonkers Raceway eyes adding to casino, track How VLTs saved NY horse racing Racinos seek better tax deals from NY   Options underway The talks coincide with Yonkers Raceway's announcement last month that it hired J.P. Morgan Securities to explore ways to bolster the sprawling property, possibly either with new investors or a sale by the Rooney family, which has owned the facility since 1972. The discussions also come amid a turbulent time in the Northeast gambling market -- with the possibility of casinos in northern New Jersey always looming and with the state's plans to offer three downstate casino licenses as soon as 2021. Empire City runs a massive video-lottery terminal facility with 5,222 machines and is the largest private employer and taxpayer in the city. It is an enticing spot, just 15 miles from midtown Manhattan. Tim Rooney Jr., general counsel at Empire City, told the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau that any number of options will be considered -- though he would expect the casino operation to continue under any expansion or partnership. "Their role is to evaluate the interest from outside in the property and in the business," Rooney said of J.P. Morgan. "We, over the years, have fielded interest from numerous parties about the property and the business, and this is just an effort on our part to formalize the process. We’ve told them: Their instructions are to see what the interest is in our site." Rooney recognized that moving the track for other development is a possibility. The grand vision for the property could include a hotel, parking garage, more restaurants and event space -- and even a sports franchise. Rooney didn't mention the Belmont talks, but said, "We’ve been kicking around the notion of maintaining the racing, but seeking approval to offer it somewhere else. And this is all very preliminary, and we haven’t gotten beyond the drawing board phase with this, but conceivably you could move racing to another site in the state." He added, "The vast majority of people watching and betting on the races here are doing so via the internet or OTBs or off track. As long as you have a facility where you can race and you can broadcast the signal, conceivably you could do it anywhere." Resolve, at left, driven by Ake Svanstedt. , won the 2016 $1,000,000 International Trot at Yonkers Raceway Oct. 15, 2016. (Photo: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)   Track move The idea of putting harness and thoroughbred racing at Belmont -- something that is done at some tracks around the globe -- also comes as the state is considering competitive proposals from the New York Islanders hockey team and New York City FC soccer team to make Belmont Park in Elmont, Nassau County, their future home. Faraldo said moving Yonkers racing to Belmont, which along with Aqueduct is owned by the New York Racing Association, could help bolster the redevelopment at Belmont. Resorts Worlds, owned by the gambling giant Genting based in Malaysia, runs the huge racino at Aqueduct in Queens and could be interested in buying the track land if racing ended there to expand its gambling operation, Faraldo suggested. Indeed, Resorts World and Gov. Andrew Cuomo once had a grand plan for a $4 billion convention center at the property, but the deal fell apart. Both Resorts World and Yonkers would still provide their share of gaming revenue to the track operations if the tracks moved, said Faraldo, who said he has talked to state officials about the idea. Also, Yonkers would have a more lucrative one-mile track inside the main track at Belmont instead of its current half-mile track, which would boost racing, Faraldo said. Already, horses ship in and out of Yonkers between races rather being housed there. So it would be the same at Belmont, he said. "We would hope that Genting would be interested in purchasing that extra property to make this grand thing work," Faraldo said. "That would put money in the coffers of the state, and it would also, as we see it, help refurbish and build the additional facility expansion that is needed at Belmont’s main track."  (Photo: Mark Vergari/The Journal News)   Genting declined to discuss any private discussions, but noted that it is planning to expand its operation. Both Resorts World and Yonkers are hopeful to get full gaming licenses when a moratorium on the licenses expires in 2021 -- a move that the Legislature made in 2013 to let four upstate casinos gain their footing before New York City-area casinos are brought on board. “Genting has always looked at the current Resorts World NYC facility as just the first phase of a multi-faceted, integrated resort destination," Michael Levoff, a spokesman for Genting Americas, said in a statement. "That vision is now slowly taking shape with the start of construction on a 400-room hotel and additional non-gaming amenities -- with hopefully more to follow in the future as the market demands.” Lee Park, a spokesman for the state Gaming Commission, said the agency had "no position on the matter." NYRA, meanwhile, suggested it wasn't interested in a new racing partner, saying it supports 17,000 jobs and has $2 billion in annual economic impact in part through its year-round stables and training at Belmont. "We are focused on ways to enhance and improve our thoroughbred racing and training facilities, not replace them," NYRA said in a statement. Help from Albany Not having horse racing on site at the state's eight video-lottery facilities would be a major shift from the state's initial objective in 2001 to save horse racing by letting the tracks add the slot-machine-like devices. The law, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to boost state revenue, allowed for VLTs only at racetracks -- and it worked. The New York purses -- the amount paid out to winners in the races -- are among the highest in the nation, and revenue at the so-called racinos has soared. So whether state lawmakers would let the racinos operate without racetracks on the premises is uncertain. And they would clearly have to pass a new law for any of these ideas to move forward. Assembly Racing Committee chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said he was unaware that Yonkers may consider moving the track, and he questioned whether it would gain support in Albany. "The VLTs and the track go together," Pretlow said. "So that I don’t know about. I don’t think that would work." Yonkers has had mixed results at the state Capitol in recent years. It avoided having the state picking a new casino in Orange County, which would have been a direct competitor, and instead the state choose Sullivan County farther north. The track, though, has been unable to get tax parity with Resorts World for capital improvements, which has slowed its plans to build a hotel and parking garage. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano raised concerns about moving the track, saying it is part of the city's history. "I certainly don’t want to see the track go anywhere. I think the track is a very important part of the fabric of our city," Spano said. But he recognized the Rooneys have long sought to keep the facility alive. "I think that if Yonkers Raceway is hopefully able to develop a partnership or a sale that it is done with an eye toward expanding and putting in place full gaming, which I think has limitless possibilities for the city – in terms of tax dollars, thousands of new jobs, a convention center, a hotel. That’s what comes with full gaming," Spano said. The Empire City Casino in Yonkers. (Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News)   The future ahead The track, which first opened in 1899, has had a tumultuous history: Attendance would sometimes hit 40,000 people in the grandstand in racing's heyday 60 or 70 years ago. But as interest in the sport waned, so do did the fortunes at Yonkers. The Rooneys put it up for sale in the late 1990s -- and there was a glimmer of hope that once it could lure the New York Jets or another sports franchise to build a new stadium there. The law to allow for video-lottery terminals transformed the facility. Last year, it had revenue of $590 million, a 6 percent increase from the previous year. Rooney said the family-owned track now sees a next phase for the track and casino. He said the state might be interested in moving if the roughly 15-acre track if it means growth at the Yonkers site because the state gets a cut of the racino's revenue. "We would need legislation, but I don’t think it would be controversial," Rooney said. "I think we could get the support of the horsemen, and I think the state is basically our partner in this facility with the taxes that we pay, so I think the state would look at it as an opportunity for us to do something at the property that would likely make it a more attractive site for people to come and visit and perhaps gamble here." But ultimately, the owners are looking to pair up with a major developer who has a vision -- and a bankroll -- for the site. As for possibly selling the whole property, Rooney said, "We’re not looking at it exclusively that way. I mean I think that it could be a possibility. "We’ve been here for 45 years, and we’re a big believer in this facility and we’re not looking to get out, but I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what people’s interest is in terms of if they want to partner, or if they want to go their own." By Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau Chief Reprinted with permission of the Iohud site

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 15, 2017— Nothing, not even an outside assignment can stay Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton, $10) from the swift completion of her harness racing appointed rounds. She did it again Friday night (Dec. 15th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace. With the seven lasses all moving inside one notch after a pole-sitter defection, Mackenzie A floated away from the gate, nestled fifth from her mandated impost. She watched as 3-10 fave Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) went over Lovineveryminute (Dan Dube) before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. It was a 57-second intermission before the Matchmaker conquering heroine did her usual first-up routine.   Mackenzie A hooked Lady Shadow in and out of the 1:25.1 three-quarters, poking her schnoz in front entering the lane. She drew out by a couple of lengths in a cold and snowy 1:54 (full disclosure that the snow had stopped a few races earlier). Lady Shadow did save second, failing at odds-on in both starts since her local return. Pretty Image (Matt Kakaley), Annabeth (Greg Merton) & Truth and Liberty (Eric Goodell) settled for the remainder.    For second choice Mackenzie A, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned by Ellen Kinser & Harry von Knoblauch Stables and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her sixth win in 15 seasonal starts (third consecutive, fourth in last five tries). The exacta paid $24.60, with the triple returning $110.50. As part of Yonkers Raceway’s season-ending program Sunday afternoon (Dec. 17th), the Pick 5 has a mandatory payout. The 50-cent base wager gimmick (races 7 through 11) normally requires all five winners to get paid, with no consolation. However, since state law prohibits pools from being carried over into a new year, Sunday’s Pick 5 becomes a ‘must pay’ proposition. First post Sunday is 11:30 AM, with the Pick 5 wager set to begin at 2 PM. Yonkers’ 2018 live season is scheduled to get underway with a matinee Sunday, Jan. 7th (post time TBA), pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission.   YONKERS WRAPS 2017 SEASON WITH ‘FRENCH’ SUNDAY, ‘NEW YORK, NEW YORK DOUBLE’     Yonkers Raceway wraps its 2017 live season this Sunday (Dec. 17th), with an 11-race matinee and a first post of 11:30 AM. Races 5 (post time 1 PM) through 11 (post time 4 PM) go as overflow-field, added-distance ‘French’ trots. Note that Sunday’s ‘New York, New York Double’ features Aqueduct’s third race (post time 1:18 PM) and Yonkers’ sixth race (post time 1:30 PM), with program pages accompanying this release.   Yonkers’ 2018 live season is scheduled to begin with a matinee Sunday, Jan. 7th (post time TBA), pending approval of the New York State Gaming Commission.   Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 8, 2017— Stop us if you’ve read this missive before. Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton, $8.40) did her thing from first-up Friday night (Dec. 8th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s harness racing $40,000 Filly and Mare Open Pace. Away fourth from the pole, the Matchmaker victress watched Best of Jenna (Mark MacDonald), Newborn Sassy (Brent Holland) and 3-5 choice Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) all take early shots. Lady Shadow, back here first the first time since the 2016 Matchmaker, had to work for it, racing wide to  make the lead. The $1.9 million lass, now racing for her fourth trainer in the last three months, did get around Newborn Sassy after a 27-second opening quarter-mile. It was a rated :56.1 intermission when Mackenzie A moved to engage. She did so passing a 1:24.4 three-quarters, her gait better than it was off the same trip a week ago. Mackenzie A collared Lady Shadow in the final turn, closing the repeat sale by a length-and-a-half in a life-best 1:52.4. Newborn Sassy ducked inside to grab second, with Lady Shadow tiring to third. Lakeisha Hall (Joe Bongiorno) and Pretty Image (Matt Kakaley) settled for the remainder.   For third choice Mackenzie A, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned by Ellen Kinser & Harry von Knoblauch Stables and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her fifth win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $22.60, with the triple returning $63. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Monday, December 4, 2017— When five wagering harness racing favorites in a Pick 5 sequence all go down, one of two things happen… It’s going to carry over, or It’s going to pay very well. It was the latter for one lucky bettor, taking down a five-figure Yonkers Raceway payday Monday night (Dec. 4th). Buoyed by a carryover of a bit more than $2,000, there was just over $11,000 of fresh money sent through the windows. Thus, after new-coin takeout, the races 7 through 11 winning combination of 2 - Bold and Brassy (Jordan Stratton, $5.60) 2 - Twin B Speedo (Stratton, $23.60) 4 - Warrawee Sunshine (Brian Sears, $5.10)   3 - Lindythefourteenth (Jason Bartlett, $20.20) 6 - Hail Damage Blues (Bartlett, $24) returned $10,341.25 for that lone correct half-a-buck wager. Ironically, in the last leg, 13-10 choice Juxta Cowgirl (Dan Dube) was snapped at the wire. Had she won, it would have resulted in a double carryover, though we’re guessing the lady/gentleman who cashed would not have seen the irony.   Frank Drucker

Australian Pacing Gold purchase Mackenzie was too strong when first-up at Yonkers Raceway during the weekend. Given time to settle early, mare was sent forward by harness racing driver Jordan Stratton, who was prepared to pressure the leader, Call Me Queen Be, from the breeze. Forging her way to the front halfway along the home stretch, Mackenzie scored from Best Of Jenna and All About Madi. The daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven stopped the clock in 1:54 to register her 13th win of the season. Last April the Peter Tritton trained five-year-old captured the $310,000 Matchmaker Final. Mackenzie is a daughter of former star mare Kept For Pleasure, which was triumphant in the 2007 Australian Pacing Gold. Kept For Pleasure also won the 2008 Three-Year-Old APG Final. Boasting three winners from four starters, Kept For Pleasure is also the dam of multiple Group One winner and APG graduate, Vincent. APG Media  

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, December 3, 2017—Rank outsider Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory, $62.50) was the ground-saving harness racing star Sunday morning (Dec. 3rd), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. With just a seven-horse field, the weekly trotting feature went as the late-morning opener, before the seven ‘French’ trots. In play from post position No. 5, Tight Lines actually surrendered an early pocket to lone lass Charmed Life (Yannick Gingras), as both sat behind just-over-even-money favorite Melady’s Monet (Jason Bartlett). Meanwhile, Rubber Duck (Joe Bongiorno) found himself in no man’s land and rushed up to prompt early intervals of :27.3 and :56.4. Going toward the 1:25.4 three-quarters, Rubber Duck was retreating. Melady’s Monet, meanwhile, owned a length lead into the lane before Charmed Life pulled pocket. The lady went past ‘Melady,’ but a cone-skimming Tight Lines went past both of ‘em. Tight Lines defeated Charmed Life by a half-length in 1:55.1. Melady’s Monet faded to third. The minors went to DW’s NY Yank (Jordan Stratton) and Muscles on Fire (Brent Holland). For Tight Lines, a 4-year-old Yankee Glide gelding co-owned by his trainer/driver, Jesmeral Stable and William Richardson, it was his 10th win in 24 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $164.50, with the triple returning $530. Those sagacious handicappers who unearthed Tight Lines and Taco Tuesday (Dan Dube, $41.80) in the $26,000, second-race trot took home a season-high $1,279 daily double (last Sunday’s early double paid $1,162), This ‘New York, New York Double’ saw a winning combination of 4-Dream Pauline (Aqueduct’s 3rd race) and 3-Gruden (Yonkers’ 5th race) returned $13.30 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $4,927. Sunday matinees, along with the ‘New York, New York Double,’ conclude Dec. 17th (post time TBA). It’s the final program of the season. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Monday evening’s (Dec. 4th) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $2,036.97. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Sunday afternoon), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, December 2, 2017—Pole-assigned Thisjetsabookin’ (Jordan Stratton, $11.60) needed every bit of a perfect pocket trip Saturday night (Dec. 2nd), winning Yonkers Raceway’s harness racing $40,000 Open Handicap Pace. It was 11-10 favorite Caviart Luca (George Brennan) as the only leaver, working around Thisjetsabookin’ before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. After a :56.1 intermission, The Real One (Pat Lachance) took out of fourth. He engaged the leader in and or of a 1:24.2 three-quarters, actually poking his noggin in front. While Caviart Luca and The Real One were just about in synchronized step entering the lane, Thisjetsabookin’ was patiently awaiting his turn. He ducked inside, making it a three-way scrum. The short route was the best route, as Thisjetsabookin’ won by a neck in 1:52.4…matching his season’s-best effort. The Real One won the battle, but lost the war, with Caviart Luca, Orillia Joe (Brent Holland) and Bakersfield (Greg Merton) rounding out the payees.       For third choice Thisjetsabookin’, 5-year-old Jereme’s Jet gelding owned by William Emmon and trained by William Adamczyk, it was his fifth win in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $61, with the triple returning $177. Sunday matinees continue tomorrow (Dec. 3rd), with first post of 11:45 AM. Frank Drucker

YONKERS, NY, Friday, December 1, 2017— It wasn’t terribly attractive, but certainly effective. Odds-on Mackenzie A (Jordan Stratton, $2.90) did her thing from first-up Friday night (Dec. 1st), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 harness racing filly and mare Open Pace. Away fifth from the pole in the scratch-abbreviated field of seven, the Matchmaker victress saw Call Me Queen Be (Eric Goodell) outleave all of her inside rivals, working around Best of Jenna (Mark MacDonald) with All About Madi (George Brennan) third. After early intervals of :26.4 and :56, Mackenzie A moved. She engaged Call Me Queen Be in and out of a 1:24.3 three-quarters, despite not steering all that well. Call Me Queen Be maintained a short lead off the final turn, but her pursuer was relentless. Mackenzie A forged past in mid-stretch, prevailing in 1:54. Best of Jenna was a pocket second, missing a half-length at 33-1. She did ‘photo’ an angled-out All About Madi, with Call Me Queen Be and Regil Elektra (Joe Bongiorno) coming away with the remainder.   For Mackenzie A, a 5-year-old Down Under daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned by Ellen Kinser & Harry von Knoblauch Stables and trained by Peter Tritton, it was her fourth win in 13 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $41.60, with the triple returning $84.50. A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Saturday evening’s (Dec. 2nd) Pick 5 wager starts with a carryover of $2,687.64. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing card. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Friday night), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program. Frank Drucker

Yonkers, NY--When harness racing amatuer Alan Schwartz claimed Ladys Big Stormont for $12,500 in early July of last season he knew he was purchasing a quality trotter and after owning the Earl of Stormont gelding for over a year and a half the trotter has returned his purchase price 'four fold'. Tonight (December 1) at Yonkers Raceway, in the $15,000 NAADA Trotting Series Final, Schwartz and his trusty steed kept all comers at bay and went on to score a neck triumph over Wygant Prince and driver Paul Minore in 2:00. Another neck behind the leaders in third place was Peter Kleinhans and Toss Cartwright After starting from the five-hole Schwartz sent Ladys Big Stormont toward the front as the wings of the mobile gate folded but Dave Yarock had the same idea with Mr Ridgetaker and they gained command midway around the first turn. Schwartz and Ladys Big Stormont then settled in along the pylons in third position directly behind Pail Minore's Wygant Prince and the three trotters raced in file order past the first stanza in :28.4 Yarock then led the field by the halfway point in :59.4 and although Schwartz was anxious he waited until they straightened up the backside to move Ladys Big Stormont. "When I pulled him he shot up alongside Yarock's trotter and we raced head to head to the three quarters and around the final turn and we finally cleared to the lead as we headed down the homestretch," Schwartz related. But trouble was coming when Minore moved Wygant Prince to the passing lane and Peter Kleinhans rallied Toss Cartwright on the outside and the three trotters charged side by side for paydirt "My horse was real gritty and he turned back the challengers and we held on for a neck victory over Paul's trotter. Peter's horse finished third ," Schwartz said. To say that Ladys Big Stormont is currently at the top of his game would be an understatement. In his last eight races the venerable trotter has five wins and three seconds and for the season Ladys Big Stormont reached the winners circle 11 times. Add that to 10 seconds and four thirds and the 6-year-old Earl of Stormont gelding raised his seasonal earnings to over $55,000. by John Manzi for NAADA

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 28, 2017—Yonkers Raceway turned into Monti-cello Tuesday night (Nov. 28th), as western New York harness racing driving standout Drew Monti won his first local race. Monti, who has been making sporadic sojourns downstate, went up and over with Classy Lane Rose ($10.80) in the $15,000, seventh-race pace. The 7-year-old daughter of Jereme’s Jet crossed the line in a comfortable 1:54.4. It was Monti’s first Westchester victory in his fifth try this season. The winner is owned by Monti‘s grandfather, Carl, and trained by Steven Weaver. “We originally claimed (Classy Lane Rose) here from Yonkers for $20,000 (base price) and gave her some time off. She’s raced well for us in the top class back home (eight wins and more than $84,000 overall this season). Shaw was back in for the same price again tonight. “It’s just the next level,” Monti said of his Yonkers experience. “The money is certainly better, the horses are smoother and the drivers rarely make mistakes, so I really have to be on my toes.” Monti, who had success at the Meadowlands last winter, said he’d consider trying the tri-state area more once the current Batavia season ends in mid-December.         “I know Yonkers closes around then (Dec. 17th) also, but when you guys start back up in January, I may come down early in the week and see what happens.” The 23-year-old Monti has compiled personal best in wins (281) and purses ($1.7 million) this season.   Frank Drucker

YONKERS,NY - "Yankee Joe" Lee is celebrating today. And why shouldn't he? After all, he just scored the biggest triumph of his amateur harness racing career when he guided Dizzy Rizzy to a 2:34 victory over the 1-1/4 mile distance in the $25,000 CKG Billings Gold Cup Final this morning (Nov. 26) at Yonkers Raceway. Second place went to Wygant Prince and driver "Coach Paul" Minore while "Tough Tony" Ciuffettelli garnered the show dough with Aventure. A true amateur driver Lee has no race horses of his own and no specific trainer who he drives for and although he always gets first call on horses trained by Bruce Aldrich Sr. Lee travels the amateur circuit seeking drives wherever he can. Driving today for trainer Nick Surick, whose trotter won the Billings Gold Cup last year at Harrah's Chester with "Hurricane Hannah " Miller at the controls, victory didn't come easy for Lee who has plenty of supporters at Yankee Stadium where he serves as the assistant locker room attendant for the New York Yankees. "We had tough trip today but we got the job done," Lee related. "I tried leaving but Steve Oldford (with Gonna Fly) was giving Paul Minore and Wygant Prince a tough time. I then tried to slip down on the pylons to no avail but got lucky when Bob Krivelin's horse made a break. "Sitting third I thought I had a good spot. Then Oldford pulled the pocket with over a half mile to go so I got to slip into the two hole. At the top of the stretch I rolled out of the pocket grunted at her (Dizzy Lizzy) a little and she rolled right past the leader and got there in time. I'm real honored to win the Billings Gold Cup for her connections." It was the 11th victory this year for Dizzy Rizzy, a 7 year old Ken Warkentin mare. She is owned by the Nick Surick Stables, J L Benson Stables and Hannah Miller. A rising star in the amateur ranks Lee's victory was his 15th this season after garnering 10 last year. His career began in 2010 but earnestly in just the past three seasons. The $15,000 Billings Silver Cup Final was also a big thrill for driver Bobby "Rapid Robert" Ciavardini who also scored the biggest victory of his career when he guided Baltimor AS to a 2:32.2 triumph As a youngster Ciavardini dabbled in harness racing but upon retirement from a professional career he got back into harness racing and his victory today was paramount to him, especially driving the family horse. Now with a new trainer Ciavardini and Baltimor AS started from the two hole and enjoyed a two-hole journey. Following the lead set by Fox Valley Steffen and driver by "Doctor John" Kokinos Ciavardini got lucky when Kokinos carried them all the way to the top of the stretch. At that point Ciavardini moved off the pylons and rallied his veteran trotter to a head triumph over Fox Valley Steffen. Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinhans finished third with Toss Cartwright. Baltimor AS is an 8-year-old Credit Winner gelding owned by Richard, Diane and Robert Ciavardini and trained by Tom Milici. Both races went as non-wagering events. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 26, 2017— Last season’s New York Sire Stakes champ (and Yonkers Trot runner-up) Smalltownthrowdown (Yannick Gingras, $6.40) maintained this seasons harness racing form spree Sunday afternoon (Nov. 26th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $40,000 Open Handicap Trot. With just a happy half-dozen, the weekly trotting feature went at the flat mile, after the first seven ‘French’ trots. Smalltownthrowdown, having won his last six races out of town, made short work of his inside five rivals in his local return.   As the only leaver, he toured the terrain (:27.3, :59, 1:28, 1:56.4), taking no pressure whatsoever. Smalltownthrowdown lead by a length-and-a-quarter in and out of the final turn, with the final margin a length. Pole-assigned Buen Camino (Brian Sears) chased from the pocket and saved second over Melady’s Monet (Jason Bartlett). ‘Melady,’ as the 2-5 favorite, was content to sit third until the three-quarters, when he left the cones but never seriously threatened. Wings of Royalty (Steve Smith) crossed the line fourth, but was set down to fifth (behind DW’s NY Yank [George Brennan]) for picking off a pylon early in the lane. Home’n Dray (Matt Kakaley) brought up the rear.      For second choice ‘Smalltown,’ a 4-year-old Cash Hall gelding co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Yves Sarazin, VIP Internet Stable and Bruce Soulsby, it was his eighth win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $50, the triple returned $100 and the superfeata paid $508. If you were a shrewd, late-morning handicapper, you made some holiday coin and then some. Time Outa Jail (Bartlett, $67) and Dressed to Impress (Gingras, $29.80) combined for a $1,162 early double, while the winners led respective fat exotics…$600 exacta/$2,210 triple (first race) & $633 exacta/$6,495 triple (second race).   This ‘New York, New York Double’ saw a winning combination of 4-Archival (Aqueduct’s 3rd race) and  5-I  C Caviar (Yonkers’ 6th race) returned $8.20 for every correct $1 wager. Total pool was $3,073. Sunday matinees, along with the ‘New York, New York Double,’ return Dec. 3rd (post time TBA). Frank Drucker, Yonkers Raceway Publicity Director

YONKERS, NY - The 36th season of the granddaddy of all harness racing amateur series, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series will culminate with Gold and Silver Cup Championship Finals at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday morning, November 26. The Gold Cup finale will be raced for a purse of $25,000 while the Silver Cup final will go for $15,000 prior to the betting card getting underway. The planned post time for the Silver Cup Final will be at 10:00AM followed immediately by the Gold Cup Final. Both races will have 10-horse fields and be contested over the distance of 1-1/4 miles. The Billings races on Sunday will mark a change from recent years in that they will be contested over a half-mile track when many previous finales were raced on bigger ovals. Contesting over a half-mile track and at a distance of 1-1/4 miles the driving strategies will certainly differ than those over a five eighths or mile ovals. Last year's defending Gold Cup Final winner, Hannah Miller, is not competing this season. Various rules determined the fields of the finales. The $15,000 Silver Cup Final ,with drivers in post -position order lines up below followed by the entries and drivers in the $25,000 Gold Cup Final $15,000 CKG BILLINGS SILVER CUP FINAL---post time 10:00AM 1-Fox Valley Steffen - John Kokinos 2-Baltimor AS - Bob Ciaverdini 3-Six Bax - Scott Woogen 4-Fiji - Dave Offenberg 5- Pine Tab - Dien Spiggs 6-Dial A Chic - Robert Kenney 7-Soul Train - Dave Drew 8-Toss Cartwright - Peter Kleinhans 9-Summit City Frank - Matt Zuccarello 10-Tough Get Going - Joe Faraldo $25,000 CKG BILLINGS GOLD CUP FINAL--post time 10:10AM 1-Gonna Fly - Steve Oldford 2-Permanent Joy - Robert Krivelin 3-War Cry Hall - Robert Hechkoff 4-Wygant Prince - Paul Minore 5-Dizzy Rizzy - Joe Lee 6-Jelectric - Bob Davis 7-Flirting Duesy - Tony Verruso 8-Celebrity Stimulus - David Glasser 9-Landonfitz - Davis Yarock 10-Aventure - Tony Ciuffettelli by John Manzi for the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series  

Outstanding news from Yonkers Raceway today. Word came down this afternoon that Robert (Cammie) Haughton has been appointed to the newly-created position of Director of Racing at the historic Westchester half-mile harness oval. Cammie is an astute harness racing executive, former horseman, stout advocate of the game, and a good guy. In a phrase: highly qualified.   Haughton, 57, had been serving as the Raceway’s racing consultant, and is a former presiding judge at both the Meadowlands and Yonkers.   The son of Hall of Famer Billy Haughton, thus has been part of the fabric of the harness game since boyhood. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.   He also worked as assistant race secretary at Saratoga Raceway following his career as a trainer-driver, and we remember it well during the heyday of Yonkers and Roosevelt. It’s always a joy to reminsce with Cammie about his legendary dad, his late great brother Peter, and check in to see how his mother Dorothy is doing.   JC and Cammie on this year’s Yonkers International Trot cruise “Cammie’s job is to improve our handle,” Yonkers COO Bob Galterio said. “We value his experience, and I would expect him to work in tandem with race secretary Steve Starr, presiding judge Nick Ferriero and the horsemen to do just that.”   “I’m looking forward to starting my new position,” Haughton said. “I definitely believe Yonkers’ product is as good as any in the sport, and all of us are committed to getting the racing fans to take notice.”   Cammie led the world class trotters onto the track for this year’s Yonkers International

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 19, 2017—Odds-on Charmed Life (Yannick Gingras, $3.50) slapped the harness racing boys silly again Sunday afternoon (Nov. 19th), winning Yonkers Raceway’s windy $40,000 Open Trot. With ‘only’ a seven-horse field, the weekly trotting feature went at the flat mile, the late-morning opener First-up a week ago, Charmed Life was in play early here. From post position No. 5, she found front well before a :27.2 opening quarter-mile. Lookslikeachpndale (Dan Dube), who left directly outside of the lass, was hard-used just to cram into the pocket. Once Charmed Life made the lead, there wasn’t a whole lot of suspense. She finished off her pre-noon rounds (:58.2, 1:27.3, 1:56.3), with only minimal outside grief from Home’n Dry (Jason Bartlett).  That one moved from fifth and challenged to the final turn before backing away. The margin was a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn and three-quarters of a length at the wire. ‘Chpndale’ easily saved second, while DW’s NY Yank (George Brennan) Buen Camino (Brian Sears) and Tight Lines (Jeff Gregory) were relegated to the minors.   For Charmed Life, a 7-year-old millionairess daughter of Majestic Son co-owned (as Allard Racing) by (trainer) Rene Allard, Yves Sarazin and VIP Internet Stable, it was her eighth win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $17, with the triple returning $81.50. The scheduled ‘New York, New York Double’ was cancelled after Aqueduct scrapped its card. Sunday matinees, along with the weather-permitting ‘New York, New York Double,’ return Nov. 26th (post time TBA). Frank Drucker

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