Day At The Track

Tony Verruso wins Billings Trot at Saratoga

12:16 PM 21 Jul 2018 NZST
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Tony Verruso, harness racing
Tony Verruso
Geri Schwarz photo

Saratoga Springs, NY - The granddaddy of all amateur driving organizations, the ever-traveling CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, made a stop at Saratoga Raceway on Friday night, (July 20) and when it was all over Tony "the Capo" Verruso emerged victorious when he guided Mandeville to a 2:00.2 triumph over seven others.

Sometimes realty can rival fiction; case in point; tonight's Billings Trot. The winning driver is the president of the Billings Series but more unusual, the winning trainer was Saratoga regular, Donald Billings.

When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded in that contest "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo had Tough Get Going in high gear from post six and they led the field by the first stanza in :29.3 with "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli and Better To Be Lucky challenging on the limb. But Ciuffetelli settled in along the pylons behind Faraldo.

With little pressure, Faraldo got his charge by the half in 1:01.4 which precipitated moves by the trailing horses. First to move was Simeon "Hot Rod" Hunsdon with Lisa Jane but they got alongside the leader but couldn't get around him. Meanwhile Verruso used Hunsdon's cover as the field trotted by the third stanza in 1:31.1 and at that point Tough Get Going braced for Verruso and Mandeville who kept charging on the outside.

The two were heads apart around the final turn but Mandeville was the strong horse in the lane and went on to a two length triumph. Tough Get Going held on for second while Better To Be Lucky garnered the show dough.

Mandeville, a 6-year-old Majestic Son gelding owned by Jessica Anderson, was sent off as the odds-on favorite and paid $3.60 for win.

Because Verruso has been busy with his professional career it was only his 13th start this season and his first winner in 2018. However he has won 69 races since he began amateur driving in 1999.

 by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

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