For Opinion, click here for View from the Racetrack Grandstand

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

World Harness Handicapping Championship Presented by is this Saturday

This Saturday, April 28, 2018 the top horseplayers in North America will compete for $75,000 in prize money in the 2018 World Harness Handicapping Championship presented by, at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment.  The WHHC is a one-day tournament, with a welcome reception the evening prior.

This Thursday, is offering a final qualifier with two $1,000 seats in the Final up for grabs.  Players can register at
Through Tuesday, 73 players have qualified via online tournaments, TVG/Betfair, and on-site track tournaments held at the Meadowlands, Tioga & Vernon Downs, Buffalo Raceway and Standardbred Canada.

Players that did not earn a seat through a qualifying event can directly buy-in for $1,000.  The $1,000 entry fee includes a $300 bankroll, with the remaining $700 going to the prize pool.  The WHHC contest format requires players to bet 10 races: their choice of seven Meadowlands races, plus three designated mandatory races (one each) from Buffalo, Vernon Downs and the Meadowlands.  Players keep all pari-mutuel winnings.  Prize payouts are to the Top 10, with a guaranteed prize pool of $75,000. If more than 108 players enter the Championship, the prize pool will exceed the guarantee.

Walk-up registrations will be accepted for the WHHC Final presented by until 7 pm on Saturday, April 28.   For the contest entry form and complete rules visit


by john manzi for the Billings Series
The C.K.G. Billings Harness Driving Series kicks off its 37th season on Sunday April 29 at Miami Valley Raceway followed by a leg at Freehold Raceway on Saturday May 5 . And six days after that, the talented amateur drivers will compete at the Meadowlands on Friday, May 11..
Then, almost weekly, there will be competitions 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 a multitude of amateur clubs have now become part of the harness racing landscape.
Amateur racing has never been more popular than it is now” noted 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. And not only that, amateur races are needed to help fill overnight cards at many racetracks.
Last year amateur racing action was with weekly record braking handles in races at the Meadowlands and at Pompano Park. Wagering was also strong in the NAADA Trotting Series at Yonkers, Freehold, and Monticello.’ 
Various amateur clubs are now organized to help maximize the number of races and add benefits to the tracks that host them as well as abetting the various charities that 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 Museum and Hall of Fame,” Verruso added.”
This season being no exception Billings president Verruso has once again worked diligently and as a result has put-together another outstanding series of races at venues both in the United States and Canada.
You’ll find that the current schedule has limited Canada dates as Billings member Dave Drew is still working tirelessly at getting us squared away up North”, Verruso acknowledged. “So hopefully there will be some dates to add to our seasonal schedule.”
According to Verruso most rules remain the same except for the following:
*The yearly earnings per start average has been lowered to $1,500 per start.
* Because of the number of amateur clubs in the East, it is getting harder to fill two fields at any one venue and we never get two in the Mid-West. So this year we are going to let any horse entered for the $10,000 claiming price draw inside any horse entered for $15,000. “
It does not mean the $10,000 claimer will draw the inside post, just that said horse will draw inside of any $15,000 claimers,” Verruso explained. “If need be, the race may be seeded and drawn in lots as is done in some of our races already.”
At season’s end the Gold & Silver Cup Finals will be held at Yonkers Raceway on November 26th..
Yonkers has graciously offered to host the races at our normal purse level. They will feature the Gold Cup on their France Simulcast Program which should be a great showcase for Amateur Racing here in the States.
There is a very big amateur colony in Europe so it will be very nice to put on a good show for them. We will have to go with 10 horses at 1 1/4 miles as all the French Races do,” Verruso stated.
To become a member of the Delvin Miller Harness Drivers Association or for a complete listing of conditions and nominating costs please contact Verruso at  or Billings Series VP, Steve Oldford One can also get pertinent information on the Delvin Miller Harness Driving Series on the USTA website under amateur racing.

And They’re Off! Summer Racing Season Kicks-Off at Empire City Casino with Kentucky Derby Viewing Party & Hat Contest on Saturday, May 5th

From Empire City Casino/Yonkers Raceway Public Affairs

(Yonkers, NY)—The Kentucky Derby is often described as the “most exciting two minutes in sports,” but there will be four hours worth of excitement trackside at Empire City Casino on “Derby Day” on Saturday, May 5th. Highlighted by the annual Derby Hat Contest, the festivities begin at 3:00 p.m. with food & beverage specials, live simulcast of the big race from Churchill Downs, and musical entertainment.

The highlight of the event is Empire City’s Derby Hat Contest, overseen by Greg T. from the Elvis Duran and the Z100 Morning Show.

Empire City’s viewing party for the 144th renewal of Kentucky Derby officially launches the summer racing & simulcast season. The first post-time of the day is at 10:30 a.m. with the Kentucky Derby race expected around 6:30 p.m. Wagering on the “Run for the Roses” from Churchill Downs is available at simulcast locations throughout the casino including outdoor trackside and in Dan Rooney’s Sports Pub.

In addition to the Derby, Yonkers Raceway will simulcast more than 30 of the premier harness and thoroughbred tracks from across North America throughout the day and night, as well as host live harness racing beginning at 6:50 p.m.

As the racing season continues, Empire City will also simulcast the Derby’s companion events – the Preakness Stakes, held May 19th in Maryland, and Belmont Stakes, held June 9th on Long Island, NY. A multitude of major stakes races throughout the summer and into the fall will also take place at the racetrack including two signature Triple Crown harness races – the Yonkers Trot and the Messenger Stakes, both on September 1st – as well the Art Rooney Pace on May 26th and the Dan Rooney Pace & $1-million Yonkers International Trot, which puts an exclamation point on the stakes season, in October.

Registration for the Derby Hat Contest is from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Contestants must be Empire Club members to claim prizes – new members can sign up to join the Empire Club for free at any Promotions Booth. The finalists will be announced at 5:00 p.m. when Greg T. selects his “Celebrity Prize Pick” to win a cash prize of $750. First place will win $500, with $250 going to the runner-up and $100 for third place.

DJ LAX will provide the musical entertainment, and Z100 will be on-site giving away swag. Guests can indulge in the signature Derby cocktail – a classic Mint Julep made with bourbon, mint leaves and sugar and available in a commemorative glass for the first 700 to purchase. A variety of traditional raceway food will be available for purchase trackside, or guests can experience classic raceway dining in the Empire Terrace, open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. race day, where the Derby can be viewed on a private screen at the party’s table.

Reservations for the Empire Terrace are now being accepted for parties of six or more by calling 914-968-4200 ext. 649.

After experiencing Kentucky-in-New York, guests can try their luck on the casino’s IGT Wheel of Fortune Triple Stars® slot machine jackpot, now over $1.1-million. Just this past March, Theresa P. of Westchester, NY won a life-changing jackpot of $2.9-million, the highest-ever jackpot at any of New York State’s regulated casinos.

For more information on Empire City Casino, the Kentucky Derby Party & Hat Contest, and directions visit Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, 810 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, New York 10704, 914-968-4200


BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Monday, April 23, 2018—After three preliminary rounds and sufficient whittling, the field is set for Tuesday night’s (Apr. 24th) $85,000 final of the Bonus Trotting Series.
The event, co-sponsored by Yonkers Raceway and the Standardbred Owners Association of the New York, goes as the ninth of 11 races. Post time is the usual 6:50 PM.
Seasoned Saint (Jim Marohn Jr., post 2) was the only perfect participant, winning all three of his series starts.
The 5-year-old Dewycheatumnhowe gelding, co-owned by (trainer) Rene Allard, Bruce Soulsby and Alan Weisenberg, has won six of his 10 seasonal starts and half of his 32 career efforts.
Allard also co-owns (with Blue Chip Bloodstock and John Lengacher) and trains the lone lass, Romancing Rachel (Mark MacDonald, post 3).
The 4-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill won her first two starts before a tiring pocket third in the final leg. ‘Rachel’ has hit the board in nine of her 11 ’18 tries.   
Due to overlapping ownership, Optimist Blue Chip (Andy Miller, post 4) completes this three-pronged posse. The 4-year-old Dewycheatumnhowe gelding, owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock and trained by Julie Miller, has gone 1-2-3 in his series starts.
Bluebird Jesse (George Brennan, post 1) was another prelim ‘two-timer,’ the wins sandwiching a race mired by incessant road trouble.
The 4-year-old Jailhouse Jesse gelding is trained by Scott DiDomenico co for-owners Brian Carsey, John McGill and Adam Friedland.
Ei Ei O (Scott Zeron, post 8) also won twice before being victimized by an interference break a week ago. The 4-year-old son of pacing stallion Cam’s Rocket is owned and trained by Arlene Cameron.
Aces and Eights (Ray Schnittker, post 5), Icanflylikeanangel (Jeff Gregory, post 6) and Tyson (Yannick Gingras, post 7) each had a win in the series, the first two of this set at 14-1 odds.
The ‘bonus’ portion of the series title is an additional $10,000 SOA payday to the winner, provided the owner(s), trainer and driver(s) of the horse throughout the series were association members before the first draw of the series.
A $35,000 series consolation goes as the fourth race.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two Year Old Training Back at The Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands and the SBOA of NJ will again cooperate to provide access to the racetrack for those horsemen wishing to train their young horses over the oval during the month of May beginning on Thursday, May 3.

The track will be open each Thursday in May from 7am to 11am and the paddock is open and available during those hours. The cost for these sessions will be covered by the SBOA of NJ.

Please call the Race Office at 877-782-2537 by noon each Wednesday with an estimated number of horses so preparations may be made.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 21, 2018—She went from dominant to doubting in just one start.
It took just one more start to restore the reputation.
Odds-on fave Shartin N (Tim Tetrick, $3.80) gave nothing else a chance Saturday night (Apr. 21st), winning Yonkers Raceway $373,000 final of the Blue Chip Matchmaker.
A week after a confounding, double-break performance, Shartin N—who had won her first three series preliminaries before taking the subsequent fourth round off—had something to prove.
An unhurried fourth after winning the draw, Shartin N saw Sell a Bit N (Jordan Stratton), Medusa (Yannick Gingras) and eight-holer Lakeisha Hall (George Brennan) all leave in front of her.
It was Sell a Bit N leading through pokey intervals of :27.2 and :57 before Shartin N began her assault. Moving with purpose, she engaged the leader right at the half, then rolled by. A 27-second third quarter (1:24 three-quarters) gave her the lead, which she widened to 3½ lengths entering the lane.
The final margin was 4½ lengths in a spiffy 1:52.2. Sell a Bit N did save second over 49-1 outsider Motu Moonbeam N (Brent Holland), with Dude’salady (Scott Zeron) and Lady Shadow (Jason Bartlett) settling for the minors.
Medusa, Twinkle (Eric Goodell) and Lakeisha Hall  rounded out the order.
For Shartin N, a 5-year-old daughter of Tintin in America co-owned by Richard Poillucci & Jo  Anne Looney-King and trained by Jim King Jr., it was his eight win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $8.70, with the All-Kiwi triple returning $87.
“I wasn’t racing her to win,” Tetrick said. “I was racing her to make money. If she broke again, we’d get nothing, so I wanted to be careful getting out of there.”

“She’s been fussy at times, and she was last week, but she was very good tonight,” Tetrick said. “She has every attribute to be a good horse, you just have to keep her calm like she was tonight. She’s learning how to be an ‘American’ horse, to stop and start and relax.”

“We did a lot of work with her, changed some things right up until the race and added a Murphy blind (right side),” King said. “I also warmed her up hard to get some of the sting out of her. I’m glad it worked out. It’s a better feeling than last week, I can say that.”

Tetrick won his second Matchmaker, eight seasons after Ginger and Fred (2010).

A pair of series consolations, worth $100,000 (Levy) and $75,000 (Matchmaker), were won by Always at My Place (Brennan, $47)  in 1:53.1, and Mackenzie A (Stratton, $4.50), also in 1:53.1.


YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 21, 2018—Foiled Again has company.
Favored Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube, $7) successfully defended his title Saturday night (Apr. 21st), winning Yonkers Raceway $527,000 of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series .
The 31st Levy, a Free-For-All event honoring the memory of the harness-racing visionary and Hall of Fame founder of Roosevelt Raceway, wrapped its annual six-week sojourn on a brisk, (theoretically) spring evening.
At the outset, it was pole-sitting Western Fame (Mark MacDonald) seating everyone, including next-door neighbor Dr. J Hanover (Brett Miller). However, Keystone Velocity wasn’t happy with that arrangement. Away third from post position No, 3, he moved to the lead right at a :26.4 opening quarter-mile.
He then rated a :29.3 next subsection (:56.2 half), which would serve him well.
            Somewhere in L A (Jason Bartlett) was the first to move, taking out of fifth before the intermission. Mach it So (Dave Miller) and Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton) found themselves second- and third-over, respectively.
            It was Keystone Velocity maintained the lead in and out of a 1:23.4 three-quarters, his job made easier when Western Fame backed up in the pocket and right into the lap of Dr. J Hanover.
            The lead was a length-and-a-quarter entering the lane, and Keystone Velocity wasn’t seriously threatened. Somewhere in L A hung in there, Mach it So dove inside and Bit of a Legend N rallied late, though too late. The final margin for Keystone Velocity was a length in a season’s-best 1:52.
Bit of a Legend N (now a double-millionaire) did get into second, with Somewhere in L A third. Mach it So and a compromised Dr. J Hanover settled for the remainder, while Evenin’ of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), Western Fame and Rockin’ Ron (Yannick Gingras) rounded out the order.
            So, Keystone Velocity, the ‘old man‘ of the octet who needed a win in last week’s final preliminary leg just to make the final, joined Foiled Again (2009-10) as back-to-back Levy champions.
For Keystone Velocity, a 10-year-old son of Western Hanover co-owners (as Allard Racing)  by (trainer) Allard, Kapildeo Singh, Earl Hill Jr. and VIP Internet Stables, it was his second win in six seasonal/series starts. The exacta paid $39, the triple returned $224.50 and the superfecta paid $1,161.

The $266,000 winner’s share raised Keystone Velocity’s career earnings to $1,644,413.

“He’s tough horse,“ Dube said. “I think he’s better when he’s racing from behind, but he drew well and we were able to get a breather, it was good.”

“He doesn’t know he’s 10,” Allard said. “There are just so many people who work with him that deserve the credit. Me? I was more nervous last season, so I’m able to enjoy this one.”

After some R&R, Keystone Velocity ‘is staked to pretty much everything,” Allard said.    

Members of the Levy family, including George Morton Levy’s son, Robert, and daughter, CeCe, made the winner’s circle presentation.   


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Barimah A and Apple Bottom Jeans were the big winners as the Meadowlands hosted a pair of series finals on Saturday night.
Barimah A used a quick burst of speed to grab the top at the quarter in :27 in the $53,500 Whata Baron for horses and geldings on the pace. He hit the half in a rated :55 as Phoenix Warrior N was making progress on the outside before the pair duked it out through a lightning-fast third fraction of :26.1 as Barimah A maintained a length advantage at the top of the stretch.
From there, the 8-year-old gelded son of Bettor’s Delight paced his final quarter in :28 as pocket-sitting Windsong Leo was desperate for racing room along the pylons. At the wire, Barimah A would prevail by a neck over Windsong Leo with Phoenix Warrior N holding on for third.
The winner completed the mile in 1:49.1 – the fastest of the year at the Big M – and paid $5.00 to win as the favorite for driver Andy Miller, trainer Scott Di Domenico and owners Brian Carsey, John McGill and Adrian Friedland.
In the $54,500 Burning Point, Apple Bottom Jeans completed a sweep of the series for pacing mares, following up her two convincing preliminary scores with a half-length victory over Valuable Art in 1:50.2. Princess Fabulosa was third.
Driver Victor Kirby brushed Apple Bottom Jeans to the top at the three-eighths before having to yield to a headstrong Windsun Glory just before the half. Valuable Art, who had drawn post 10, was up to challenge the leader at three-quarters with Apple Bottom Jeans continuing to sit the two hole.
In deep stretch, Apple Bottom Jeans found some space along the inside and the Kevin Switzer trainee exploded home once clear to run her Big M win streak to three. As the 2-5 public choice, she paid $2.80 to win for owners KDK Standardbreds. The 5-year-old daughter of Mr Apples now has 18 wins from 43 career starts and earnings of $477,224.
A LITTLE MORE: Bettor’s Edge defeated arch-rival Western Joe in the $20,000 Preferred Handicap for pacers, completing the mile in 1:50 and paying $11.20 to win. … Miller and Kirby both recorded driving triples on the card. … The 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 pool reached a new all-time high, as $25,788 was poured into the pot with two winners each walking away with $12,244 for surviving seven legs. … The Late 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five wager has now reached a milestone, as the carryover now stands at $200,837. … All-source wagering on the 10-race program was $2,048,556. … Racing resumes at the Meadowlands Friday at 7:15 p.m.

Upfront Countryboy Cruises To Win At Buffalo Raceway

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Upfront Countryboy ($5.60) made it look easy once again at Buffalo Raceway on Saturday night (April 21) by thumping the field in the featured $9,600 pace in a seasonal best 1:54.0 over the fast track.

After blowing out his foes last week by 5-1/2 lengths in an $8,100 optional claimer, Upfront Countryboy stepped up in class to face better. The stiffer competition didn't matter as he paced away to a comfortable 7-1/4 length win over Im So Handsome.

Taking command through a half-mile of 56.4, Upfront Countryboy (Shawn Gray) never looked back from there. A blazing :27.4 final split eliminated the slight hopes of the remaining six pacers had in the stretch. Im So Handsome (James McNeight Jr) held on for second place while Barrys Shelby (Ray Fisher Jr.) took the show position.

Owned by William Emmons and trained by James Clouser Jr., it was the fifth win in eight attempts this season for Upfront Countryboy (Dragon Again-Cambloid). The 9-year-old gelding has now put $14,957 in the bank in 2018 and $376,957 lifetime.

Gray completed the evening with five wins in the sulky, Drew Monti tripled and Fisher Jr. had a double. Clouser Jr. finished with four training victories and JD Perrin added three.

It was a memorable night for Riley Asher-Stalbaum as she registered her first career training victory as Empire Earl N (Fisher Jr.) won the $8,100 trot in 1:58.1. 

Racing will continue on Wednesday night with a 10-race card scheduled for 5 p.m.

For more information including the latest news, simulcast schedule, race replays, results, entries and upcoming promotions, go to

Stay In Your Place easily wins Vernon feature.

Stay In Your Place (Leon Bailey) coasted to a gate-to-wire victory in the Vernon Downs feature pace ($7,000), on Saturday (April 21).

Stay in Your Place (Mr Wiggles), who is owned by Victor Finocchiaro and trained by Andy Gardner, went to the front and never looked back.  The 4-year-old controlled all the fractions (:26.3, :55.3, 1:23.4, 1:52.2).  Drunken Desire A (Justin Huckabone) came on late to finish second with Ben N Crosby (John MacDonald) taking third.

Stay In Your Place ($10.00), would pick up his third win of the season and earn career win number 10.

Silver Arrow (John MacDonald) captured the first leg of the Anthony Farina Pacing Series ($4000).

Silver Arrow (Roll With Joe) would charge out to the front and lay down all the fractions (:27.4, :57.4, 1:27.1, 1:55.3).  CJ’s Roll On Two (Claude Huckabone III) would ride in the pocket seat the whole way and would settle for second place.  Back to Motown (Mike Merton) would finish third.

Silver Arrow ($3.40), is owned by Purple Haze Stables and George Wyman while trained by Howard Okuskow.  He won for the first time this season.  The 3-year-old colt now has two career victories.

Vernon Downs  returns to live racing on Friday (April 27) at 6:10 p.m.

For more information go to