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Yonkers, NY-- After being sidelined recently because of weather problems, the granddaddy of all amateur harness racing programs, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, finally got a clear evening and presented another contest on Monday (March 8) at Yonkers Raceway. And when the judges hung the official sign after that race, Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff and Pound Sterling emerged victorious when they vanquished five others en route to a 2:00 victory. In the short 6-horse field, Hechkoff, who has driven 107 winners in his amateur career, knows that if you have the best horse in the race, send him to the front -- and that's just what he did after starting from the two-hole. But Hechkoff didn't have an easy time of it when "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello sent his charge, Stealing, for the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded, and they kept pressure on Pound Sterling as they trotted by the first stanza in a swift :28.3. Still eye-to-eye with Zuccarello's charge, Hechkoff had little choice but to keep the pedal to the metal, and the two were battling head-to-head as they trotted by the half in :58.2. They were still heads apart as they headed toward the third split in 1:29.1, but unfortunately for Zuccarello, his trotter made a bobble which eliminated his chances After that miscue by Zuccarello's trotter, Pound Sterling still had pressure and braced for a late charge from Fiji and Dave "the Rave" Offenberg as they trotted into the final turn. And although they were heads apart as they headed for paydirt, Pound Sterling held gamely for a neck triumph over Fiji. Just a length behind the top two was Hot Summer Knight in rein to "Mighty" Marianna Monaco. The winner of the non-wagering affair was the 8-year-old Muscle Hill gelding who is owned by R B H Ventures and Spagnola Racing LLC and trained by Kyle Spagnola. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Yonkers, NY-- After a couple of false starts due to weather conditions, the granddaddy of all amateur driving harness racing series finally presented another leg of the 2021 CKG Billing Series season on March 1st at Yonkers Raceway. When the judges hung the official sign that evening "Mighty Marianna" Monaco emerged victorious after she sat back and then and rallied Hot Summer Knight to a head victory over the pace-setter, Pound Sterling, who was driven Bob "the Headhunter"Hechkoff. When the starter said "go" Hechkoff gunned Pound Sterling to the lead from post position six and they had command on the first turn and led five others by the first quarter in :29.1. Comfortable on the lead Pound Sterling and Wygant Prince ("Coach Paul" Minore) were one-two as they passed the half in 1:00.2. Perhaps the soft race track kept the trailers from moving early and the field remained in the same order as they approached the three quarters. Monaco was the first to move off the pylons and she rallied Hot Summer Knight up alongside the Pound Sterling and when they rounded the final turn the former was the strong horse and he collared Pound Sterling for a head victory in 2:03. Wygant Prince held on for the show dough. The winner, a 10-year-old Justice Hall gelding, is owned by Lynette Buter and trained by Todd Buter For full results, click here. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

WASHINGTON, PA, Nov. 22, 2019 -- Parked the opening five-eighths following an unruly pre-race harness racing performance, Keystone Blade nevertheless found more for Kelly "Sky" Walker and sprang an 18-1 upset in Friday's $25,000 Midwestern Championship of the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Trot at The Meadows. The event, styled as the Delvin Miller Memorial Gold Cup, was contested at 1-1/4 miles over a "good" surface. Keystone Blade was visibly unhappy while scoring down, tossing his head and trying to shrug off those attempting to adjust his equipment. With those changes made, however, Walker and Keystone Blade set sail after the early leader, 3-2 favorites Jazmin "The Little Flower" Arnold and Celebrity Pegasus, a task complicated by the break of Alesha "The Hoosier Hotshot" Binkley (Body Of Work) in front of them. Walker and Keystone Blade finally cleared their rivals and went on to down Arnold and Celebrity Pegasus by 1-3/4 lengths in 2:30. "Tiny" Tim Miller (Song In My Heart) and "Chicago" George Bonomo (Tartufo Lindy) completed the ticket. Keystone Blade now has banked $148,022 for Walker, who also trains the 6-year-old Yankee Glide-Keystone Brittany gelding for Kelly Walker Stable. In the $18,000 Open Handicap Pace, K Ryan Bluechip survived a demanding three-wide opening quarter and scored in 1:51.4 for Dave Palone, trainer Mike Palone and owners J.R. Ryan, Stephen Ronay, Lone Wolf Stable and Collin Ryan. With the victory, the 7-year-old Art Major-Fool That I Am gelding soared over $500,000 in career earnings. Mike Wilder piloted four winners on the 13-race card. Live racing at The Meadows resumes Monday when the program features a $49,290.29 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. In addition, the card offers a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4 (races 3-6) and a $3,760.10 carryover in the Pick 5 (races 2-6). First post for the 13-race program is 1:05 PM. By Evan Pattak, for The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association  

Northfield, OH-- Jazmin "the Little Flower" Arnold is really beginning to make a name for herself. The diminutive lady from Xenia, Ohio, just keeps doing what she knows best and that is driving harness racing winners and recently in the midwest region of the Billing Trotting Series On Sunday evening (Nov. 10) Arnold scored again when she reined Celebrity Pegasus to a romping six-length 1:55 triumph over Kelly "Sky" Walker's, Keystone Blade, in the $6000 Billings Trot. For the rising star it was her 22nd driving victory this season. True, more that half were on the Ohio County Fair circuit, but since gaining her full license she has been dominating her veteran Billings competitors at many pari-mutuel venues. Her victory on Sunday was her third consecutive - all with different Herman Hagerman-trained horses- at Nothfield Park. Her journey to victory on Sunday took an overland route from when she hustled Celebrity Pegasus to the lead from the five-hole and after wicked early half-mile fractions of :27.3 and 55.3, her trotter finally made the front. And once on top Arnold kept the pedal to the metal and the 7-year-old son of Andover Hall led the competition by the third stanza in 1:24.4, and through the stretch Celebrity Pegasus cruised to an easy victory. After parking the winner in the early going "Sky" Walker's Keystone Blade hung on for second money while Lavern "Michigan" Miller took home the show dough with Sea Fearher. The winner, owned by Morgan Hagerman, returned a $4.80 mutuel. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

MONTICELLO, NY--The chilly weather, with intermittent rain drizzling down , didn't deter Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin from his mission today. The three-time National Amateur Driver of the Year sent his trusty harness racing steed, Permanent Joy, to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded and then made every pole a winning one en route to a 1-1/2 length victory in the CKG Billings trot at Monticello Raceway.on a gloomy Thursday afternoon. Starting from the pole position Krivelin sent his charge to the front and they had command on the first turn. "My horse doesn't like dirt in his face so I wanted the front end, " Krivelin explained. "And all through his long career once Permanent Joy gets in front he doesn't like t give up the lead. And thankfully, today, I guess was no exception" With a six-horse field and two trotters breaking after the start, Krivelin got away with a soft 30 second first quarter even as Annie "Get You're Gun" Stoebe hustled Pembroke Bada Bing in behind Permanent Joy. They then raced one-two by the half in 1:01 and the order remained the same as they trotted by the third stanza in 1:31.1. When the field headed for home Permanent Joy opened a two length lead and then rebuffed any and all challenges to score his fifth seasonal triumph. Pembroke Bada Bing finished second and The Cuse is Loose garnered the show dough for Billings president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. Sent off at odds of 4-1 Permanent Joy, a $258,000 career winner, notched his 43rd lifetime victory and repaid his backers with a $10.00.mutuel. And for Krivelin, it was his 222nd winning drive by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

NORTHFIELD, OH--Those who watched the CKG Billings races at Northfield Park on Sunday night got to see an industry rising star guide, not one, but two trotters to the winners circle that evening. Fittingly nicknamed "the Lethal Lady", Jazmin Arnold certainly lived up to that moniker. Up behind favored Buddy Hally from the four hole in the first contest, Ms Arnold gunned her charge for the lead and had to trot a :27.4 first quarter before Kelly "Sky" Walker and Jurgen Hanover yielded command. Once on top Arnold kept the pedal to the metal and Buddy Hally completely annihilated his competition. Comfortable on the lead Arnold guided her charge to a seven-length triumph in a very creditable 1:56 clocking. Utopia and driver Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, trotted through traffic to gain the place money while Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola took home the show dough with Better Call Saul. Owned by Joseph Varga and trained by Herman Hagerman, Buddy Hally paid $4.60 for win. In the othe Billings event Ms Arnold used different tactics after starting from the pole position with Nono Lindy. When the starter said "go" she allowed Alesha "the Hoosier Hotshot" Binkley, with United Bi, and Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford with Smart Flight, to find room along the pylons in front of her. United Bi led Smart Flight all the way to the three quarters at which point Ms Arnold rallied favored Nono Lindy and the altered son of Crazed trotted to the lead when the field turned for home and at the wire they were a length to the good over United Bi. Smart Flight finished third. Owned by Terrence Smith and trained by Herman Hagerman, Nono Lindy, returned a $4.60 mutuel. But perhaps the bigger story is the emergence of Jazmin Arnold as a top flight tail-setter. For the 24 year old miss who began the season mainly on the county fair circuits, she now has 21 wins, eight seconds and five thirds in 54 starts for a phenomenal .502 UDR. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

YONKERS, NY--After a NAADA amateur event at Monticello this afternoon members of the CKG Billings Series gathered gathered at Yonkers Raceway tonight to compete in two harness racing trotting events before the first race on the betting card and oddly each contest was won in wire-to-wire fashion. In the first $6000 split "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello took advantage of the rail position and sent Broadway Bruiser to the front when the wings of the mobile gate folded and the veteran trotter made every pole a winning on en route to a 2:02.1 victory over the wet racetrack. "Coach Paul" Minore used the same tactics in his $6000 event when he sent his veteran trotter, Wygant Prince, to the lead from the two-hole and cruised to an easy two-length triumph in a 2:00 clocking. Zuccarello, who doubles as the publicist for the GSY Amateur Drivers Series, enjoys every chance he gets to sit behind a spirited steed under battle conditions, something he's been doing since 2011. Tonight he took no prisoners and rebuffed any and all challengers to score a two-length triumph over Noble Warrawee, and driver,"Iron Mike" Polansky finished second and last year's National Amateur Driver of the Year, "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio, garnered the show dough with Cheeky Little Miss. Broadway Bruiser, 4-year old Muscle Mass gelding, is owned by Harmon Racing, Winners Circle Racing and John Campagnuolo and trained by Rob Harmon. In his split, Minore sent Wygant Prince to the front and once there it was 'Katey-bar-the-door' as the veteran trotter cruised virtually unchallenged to notch his 41st career victory and raise his career earnings to over $466,000. Tough Get Going, in rein to "Smokin' Joe" Faraldo stalked the leader throughout but couldn't overtake him and went home with the place money. And although Finnick Odair rallied strongly at the three quarters he then flattened out and finished third for Melissa "the Contessa" Arbia.. Wygant Prince is also owned by Minore and trained by Taylor Gower. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

NORTHFIELD, Ohio-- For the second time in two weeks Jazmin "the Little Flower" Arnold was victorious in a CKG Billings Midwest regional harness racing trot when she guided Buddy Halley to a gate-to-wire 1:56.2 triumph at Northfield Park on Sunday night, October 20. On October 7th, at the same venue, the talented miss also won a Billings trot there and what might be more unusual was that the second place finisher in both races was driven by Michelle the Belle" Ruvola, once again giving the ladies their respected due. On Sunday night (Oct 20) the diminutive miss started from the two hole and quickly grabbed command and refused to yield when Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel came calling with the betting favorite, Crime Fighter. The two then raced side by side past the half in a stiff 56 seconds and they were remained one-two when they passed the three quarters in 1:25.3. and were still heads apart at the top of the lane. Meanwhile, Ruvola, with Better Call Saul, was sitting comfortably in the two-hole right from the reel and when the leaders turned for home Ruvola came off the pylons and her trotter battled bravely with Buddy Hally all the way to the wire but Ms Arnold's charge was not to be denied and hung gamely for a length victory over Better Call Saul. Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer took home third money with Ubanji. And after a grueling parked-out trip Crime Fighter faded but still finished fourth, beaten just a little more than three lengths. Buddy Hally, a 9-year-old Angus Hll gelding, is owned by Joseph Varga and trained by Herman Hagerman. He paid $6.80 for win. However, with her victory, the 5-foot; two inch Jazmin Arnold now has 19 wins, 8 seconds and 5 thirds in 51 seasonal starts good for a .492 UDR. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series  

East Rutherford, NJ--Give them a big racetrack and a good purse and add that another harness racing amateur trot is also scheduled that evening and they'll come. And come they did on Friday night at the Meadowlands. Not only did the local $11,000 GSY series attract 10 horses but the granddaddy of all amateur racing events, the CKG Billings Series, had 12 entrants, so many that instead of splitting the field into two divisions it was decided to lengthen the race and go with the 12 horses at a distance of l-1/8th miles. It was a grueling contest and much to the delight of "Joltin' Joe" Pennacchio his Super Manning overcame the traffic and rallied to a 1-1/2 length triumph and took home the lions share of the $12,500 purse. With the huge field all the drivers were seeking a good position in the early going but it was the six- horse, Roundtown Rocker ("Lady Monica" Banca), who grabbed the early lead in the :27.1 first quarter. while Pennacchio and Super Manning followed in third position along the pylons. Roundtown Rocker led the cavalry charge past the three quarters before yielding to Super Manning who then went on to a 2:13 victory in the lengthened event and gave Penncchio, last season's Amateur Driver of the Year, a stellar victory. Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso hustled Santini home ahead of Roundtree Rocker to garner second money while the latter earned the show dough. Super Manning, an 11-year-old altered son of Diamond Goal, notched his third seasonal victory and 35th of his career while raising his lifetime earnings to over $655,000.He's owned by Joe P RacingLLC and trained by Cory Stratton. He paid $11.60. mutuel by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

Northfield, OH--Harness racing greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, made a stop at Northfield Park on Sunday night (Oct 13) for a trot in the series Midwest region and when the dust settled Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford emerged victorious after rallying Mego Moss to a 1:58.4 triumph over eight others. Sent off at odds just over 4-1 from the pole position, Oldford was content to allow Kelly "Sky" Walker and Jurgen Hanover to take command in a :28.1 first quarter and then sat chilly following the leader through fractions of :57.3 and 1:28.1 before unleashing his veteran trotter and then taking command and cruising home an easy length winner. Jurgen Hanover held on for second money while Bob "Lumberman" Troyer rallied Ubangi from far back to garner the show dough. Mego Moss, a 10 yer old altered son of Amigo Hall, is owned by Oldford Racing and trained by Terry Deters. He returned a $10.60 payoff to his backers. Oldford, one of the main forces in amateur driving for many years now, is enjoying another, great season, currently with 14 wins, 9 seconds and 11 thirds in 56 starts which equates to a solid .405 UDRS. It was his 158th winning drive. by John Manz,i for the Billings Series

Northfield, OH ---The ladies of the sulky made an extraordinary showing in the CKG Billings trot at Northfield Park on Sunday night (Nov 6) finishing first and second ,but it was Jazmin "the Little Flower" Arnold who shone brightest when she guided Buddy Hally to a gate-to-wire 1:56.4 victory over eight others, one of whom was Better Call Saul who was driven by accomplished Billings participant, Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola, making it a rarity when the ladies finished one-two in a CKG Billings harness racing event. Sent off as second choice in the race, the talented and up-and-coming Arnold took no prisoners when she sent the 9-year-old altered son of Angus Hall to the lead and made every pole a winning one en route to an easy 2-1/2 length triumph over Better Call Saul. And to add to the tenuity in that contest is that third place finisher Tartufo Lindy, was driven by Ruvola's dad, Chicago George" Bonomo. The race winner, Buddy Hally, is owned by Joseph Varga and is trained by Herman Hagerman. He paid $5.80. It was the second seasonal Billings victory for Arnold who has been competing at the county fairs and now sports impressive stats of 18 wins, eight seconds and five thirds in 49 starts which equates to a very impressive .492 UDR by John Manz,i for the Billings Series  

Monticello, NY--After two events in Ontario over the past weekend harness racing's greatest traveling road show, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, was on the move again today (Oct. 3) for a trotting contest at Monticello Raceway and on the rainy and chilly afternoon in the Sullivan County Catskills, Bob "Rapid Rail" Krivelin used the front-end route with his old warhorse, Permanent Joy, to win the East Region Billings trot over a sloppy race course. When the gate sprung Krivelin sent his charge to the lead and they were joined by Six Bax and driver Tony "the Capo" Verruso. but when Krivelin showed that he wanted the front-end Verruso took back and settled his trotter in behind Permanent Joy. "I wanted the front knowing my horse swells-up when he's on the lead," Krivelin related. "And once he's in front he's hard to beat." Krivelin led his challengers by the quarter in :29.4 and they were comfortable when they passed the half in 1:01. When Permanent Joy approached the three-quarters he still had three-lengths on his competition but that lead quickly began to dissipate when Broadway Bruiser and driver "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello, came roaring down the stretch. However their rally fell a neck short of overtaking the leader and they had to settle for second money. "I heard them coming and so did Permanent Joy, Krivelin said."He dug in and refused to lose." March Madness, driven by Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe took home the show dough. Krivelin owns and trains the winner who returned a $13.80 mutuel. It was the 42nd career win for the 11 year-old Trot For Joy gelding. And for Krivelin, a three-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, it marked his 220 th driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Rexdale, Ont.--For the second consecutive evening CKG Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso enjoyed a trip to a Canadian racetrack's winners circle in a two- night harness racing journey across the border for amateur driving action.. On Sunday night Verruso was victorious in an east region Billings pace at Flamboto Downs and last night (Sept.30) he made a 24-1 shot look like an odds-on favorite when he guided Mister Of All to a 1:56.3 Billings trot at the Woodbine Mohawk Racetrack in greater Toronto. One of two American reinsmen who participated in both Canada's Billings events, Verruso undoubtedly enjoyed trip north of the border after being two-for-two in the win department. Now with five victories, eight seconds and one third along with a .337 UDR in 29 seasonal starts, "the Capo" now finds himself in the running for National Amateur Driver of the Year. With little respect from the attending Canadian crowd on Monday night Verruso's trotter had the eighth post position but that didn't deter Verruso from sending his steed out to seek a position along the pylons in the first turn. But no 'holes' were to be found so Verruso kept his charge marching for the lead after being on the limb in a :27.3 first quarter. Mister Of All took command and led his competition by four lengths as he trotted by the halfway point in :57.1 With the pedal to the metal Verruso kept after his trotter and they had five lengths on the field as they passed the three quarters in 1:26.4. And although Mister Of All's strides began to shorten as he headed down the long homestretch he had enough in the tank to score a 1:56.3 victory by 1-1/2 lengths. After being eighth at the three quarters and seventh at the top of the stretch, "Mighty Marielle" Enberg rallied Meadowbranch Memo to a second place finish while Lets Leavem garnered the show dough for "Handy Dan" St Pierre. The winner, owned by Robert Key paid $51.50. East region Billing action will continue on Thursday afternoon (Oct. 3) at Monticello Raceway. For race results and entries click here. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

Hamilton, ON--The industry's greatest traveling roadshow moved north of the border on Sunday to Hamilton, Ont. for the CKG Billings pace at Flamboro Downs and when the harness racing judges posted the official sign Tony "the Capo" Verruso emerged victorious after he guided Cheyenne Moishe to a gate to wire 1:57.4 clocking over eight others. Verruso, the president of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, was one of just two Americans who traveled to Canada for the Flamboro Downs event and used the front-end route to score his fourth seasonal triumph and 75th of his amateur career. Cheyenne Moishe started from the pole position and when the starter said "go" Verruso sent his charge to the front and the 10 year old Western Ideal stallion was alone on the lead when he passed the first stanza in :28.2. Still comfortably in front by the halfway point in :59.1 Freddie "Frenchy" Bourgault sent the betting favorite, Danzig Moon, up to challenge for the lead as the two passed by the three quarters in 1:28.1. But as the two leaders paced around the final turn Danzig Moon went off-stride which left the decided 14-1 outsider, Simon Said and driver" Racin' Jason" Sgrignouli, with the only legitimate shot of catching Cheyenne Moishe. But that never materialized as Verruso's pacer had enough in the tank to turn back the challenge and score a 1-1/2 length triumph. Third place went to Little Quick driven by "Joe Joe" Walker. The winner is owned by Peter Murtezai and trained by Ronald Macdonald. He paid $5.50 for win. Tonight (Sept. 30) a final Canadian contest, a trot, will take place at Woodbine Mohawk. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Batavia, NY-- Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, kicked off a three-day weekend with a trotting event Sarurday at Batavia Downs in New York State which will be followed by competitions across the border in Canada; first at Flamboro Downs on Sunday and then at Woodbine-Mohawk on Monday. Tonight at his hometown track in western New York "Easy Dave" Russo made a laugher out of the contest when he hustled Reiki to the lead from the seven-hole and they rolled on to an easy nine-length triumph in 1:59.4 over a sloppy racetrack. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Russo found himself in the fresh air on the limb and he had no choice but to have Reiki take command which he did after a :28.4 first quarter.Once on top the field settled in behind Russo and his trotter had no challenges until Tony " Shifty" Ciuffetelli moved Bazilion off the pylons as the field headed for the third stanza. Still with a length-and-a quarter lead when the field trotted by the three quarters it was plain to see that Reiki was determined and the 7-year-old Cheyenne Rei gelding hit another gear as he rounded the final turn and then drew off to an oh-so-easy triumph. Bazilion hung on for second money while Ideal Longshot garnered the show dough for Billings president, Tony "the Capo Verruso. Reiko won for the third time this season and paid $4.20. He is owned by Russo's wife Marissa. Russo, who devotes most of his time training, has already harnessed 42 winners thus far this season and is just one victory short of 500 career winners. Tonight's triumph was Russo's 3rd driving victory--in just 7 starts- this year and 35th of his career. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series      

Yonkers, NY---Faraldo and Minore.... It may sound like a law firm or maybe an excerpt from the motion picture , "The Italian Connection". but the Faraldo and Minore referenced here are harness racing drivers and each won division of the CKG Billings Series at Yonkers Raceway Wenesday. "Smokin' Joe Faraldo won his Billings split with Muzzy's Muscles in 2:03.1 while "Coach Paul" Minore was victorious with Wygant Prince in 2:00.3 in the other division. In his event Faraldo hustled Muzzy's Muscles to the lead and they coasted through soft fractions while on the engine and although they were headed in the stretch Muzzy's Muscles rallied back to score a head victory over "Millstone Mike" Polansky's Noble Warrawee. Broadway Bruiser took home the show dough for "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. Muzzy's Muscles, a 5-year-old Credit Winner gelding,is owned by his driver and trained by Richie Banca Since the front-end route worked well for Faraldo Minore aped that move and his old warhorse made every pole a winning one. After starting from the five hole Minore zipped Wygant Prince to the lead and they had two lengths on the field as they trotted by the quarter in :29.4. Once on top they had to contend with "Joltin' Joe" Penncchio and Super Manning who came first- up after the half but they couldn't get any closer than to Wygant Prince's throat latch and Super Manning followed the old veteran trotter home to claim second money. Finnick Odair finished third for Melissa "the Contessa" Arbia. Wygant Prince is owned by Minore and trained by Taylor Gower. For full race results click here.  by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

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