Day At The Track

Billings leg and Pony Hop at The Meadows

01:36 AM 26 Aug 2018 NZST
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Harness racing Better Call Saul, harness racing
Shawn Johnston (left) nips Dan Rawlings right at the finish rope
Chris Gooden photo
Better Call Saul and driver Michelle Ruvola win the Billings Trot leg at the Meadows
Chris Gooden photo

WASHINGTON, PA, Aug. 25, 2018 — Michelle “The Belle” Ruvola (Better Call Saul) and Stephen “You’re Never Too” Oldford (Kaffir Kemp) dueled for more than 1/2 mile Friday at The Meadows before Ruvola drew away in the stretch to capture a $10,000 leg of the C.K. G. Billings Amateur Trot.

With Ruvola parked out and Oldford refusing to release any challengers, the stage for the battle was set. Despite the demanding trip, Ruvola surged late to defeat Oldford by 4 lengths in 1:57.4 for trainer Christ Hershberger and owner Wolf Creek Farm.

The 6-year-old Muscle Massive-Kelsies Song gelding pushed his career bankroll to $131,338. Tom “Mayhem” Svrcek (Fair Glider) and “Chicago” George Bonomo (Time Outa Jail) completed the ticket.

With his tough journey, it wasn’t clear that Better Call Saul would have anything left for the drive.

“I wasn’t too sure, but he felt strong all the way,” Ruvola said. “So I was hoping, and he just wouldn’t give it up. I asked him a bit, but when I asked, he gave.”

It was the third straight Billings leg in which Ruvola has out-finished Bonomo, her father. Despite retaining family bragging rights, she indicated she wouldn’t lord it over her dad.

“I feel bad about that, kind of,” she said. “It’s a horse race — we’re not father and daughter out there; we’re fellow racers. But I won’t (needle him). I’m nice.”


With a late lunge, Shawn Johnston surged across the finish line and captured Friday's Pony Hop Charity Challenge at The Meadows, earning $500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania.

The event, staged by The Meadows and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, matched eight of the track's regular drivers bouncing for their favorite charities. Dan Rawlings finished second, winning $250 for Asperger and Autism Network, while Jeremy Indof's show finish netted $150 for American Cancer Society.

Also participating were Dave Palone (Standardbred Retirement Foundation), Mike Wilder (Pacing for the Cure), Jim Pantaleano (Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center), Brady Brown (St. Jude Hospital) and Wilbur Yoder (New Vocations).

by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

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