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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Calx1 - Svendsen Sweeps Cal Expo Features

Saturday, March 31, 2012 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

One needed a perfect trip, one didn't, but the result was the same - - a win.

Conditioned & claiming male and female pacers were co-featured at Cal Expo on Friday night (March 30) in a pair of $3,600 events, on which Ivegotwhatuneed and Bewareofthisaffair were victorious.

In the race for the boys, driver Lemoyne Svendsen sent Ivegotwhatuneed to the lead from post-two in the field of five and obtained the top spot just as the field entered the first-turn while already controlling the tempo into a :29.2 opening quarter.

Yielding past the three-eighths mile pole for the pocket to Stanza (Steve Wiseman) into a :57.4 opening half-mile, the nine year-old tracked tightly with "go" in an effortless :28.2 third-quarter with Stanza reaching that station, timed in 1:26.1.

Now on the move at the head of the lane and creeping forward to the seven-eighths mile marker, mother-nature now played into the stretch-drive.

"The headwind was bugging us pretty good down the stretch and my horse was struggling to get through it," stated Svendsen.  "But he kept fighting because that's the type of horse he is - - he's always got fight in him."

Under urging with an eighth of a mile to go and continuing to gain, Ivegotwhatuneed still had to deal with a digging in Stanza, but got his nose up with a sixteenth of a mile to go, but with Stanza refusing to quit.  Being urged and driven late, the gelding got his head up at the wire.  Owned by Marty Garey in partnership with trainer Bob Johnson, Ivegotwhatuneed won ($3.60) in 1:55, thus recoding his 37th career triumph.  Stanza had to settle for the place honors, and Myra's Hiho (Scott Cisco) finished one-length farther back, in third.

"He raced his kind of race and got the job done - - it was a good race," finished Svendsen.  The conditioning victory for Johnson was one of three training scores on the program.

Distaffers were in the spotlight later in the card, on which Bewareofthisaffair was much the best.

Coming away in sixth position from post-position five in the field of seven into a :28.4 first quarter, Svendsen moved his charge first-over at the 7-16ths mile station into a :57 first-half.  Steadily gaining until attacking Frankly Scarlett (Steve Wiseman) past the midway point of the final-turn, the six year-old put a long neck up while parked at the three-quarter mile pole, timed in 1:26.3.

Drawing clear to the top of the lane, Bewareofthisaffair opened up with an eighth of a mile to go, and kept expanding her lead while Svendsen tucked his sword with a sixteenth of a mile to pace while on their way to a solid 3-3/4 length win ($11.60).  Bred & owned by Wendi Wiener, and trained by Nathalie Tremblay, Bewareofthisaffair stopped the timer at 1:55.3, a lifetime best and the third of five piloting scores for Svendsen.  Majestic Lass (James Kennedy ) finished in second, and favored Sleigh Belle (Scott Cisco) finished one-length farther back, in third.

"She was strong, strong tonight - - she was just awesome," said Svendsen.

Live racing continues at Cal Expo on Saturday (March 31) at 6:00 p.m. (PDT).   On Saturday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while Hotdogs, Fries & Sodas are offered at $2 apiece.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s.  Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.


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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 30, 2012--Yet another Yonkers Raceway Ladies Night Friday, with the second round of the Blue Chip Matchmaker for Open pacing mares. 
As was the case in the opening round. five, $40,000 divisions went postward. 
As always was the case, See You at Peelers (Brian Sears) was ready for her close-up. After a dead-heat with Chancey Lady in her Round 1 seasonal debut, the lass was not about to share here.
Leaving outside her six rivals in the fourth event, she was in play early. Impeded a bit by an inside breaker, "Peelers" had few other road flares to contend with. Throwing down fractions of :27.3, :56, 1:24.3 and 1:52.2, she defeated Billmar Scooter (Tyler Buter) by a couple of lengths. Keeper's Destiny (George Brennan) was a loose pocket third, with Pancleefandarpels (Mark MacDonald) fourth.    
For "Peelers," a 4-year-old statebred daughter of Bettor's Delight trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners (breeder) Christina Takter, and Jim & John Fielding,  her second win in as many seasonal starts raised her career resume to 24-for-27.  The odds-on people's preference returned $3.10, the exacta paid $12, the triple returned $20.40 and the superfecta paid $82.50.
"Last week, for her first start of the season, I just let her relax out of the gate and do her thing," Sears said. "Tonight, with the outside draw, I wanted her more alert leaving.
"She was much sharper than she as last week, but she figured to be. I was very happy with her." 
Friday night's other Matchmaker string quartet looked like this...
1st division--Fox Valley Sage (Cat Manzi), starting inside her five foes, sat pocketed to 11-10 favorite Breakheart Pass (Jason Bartlett), then scooted up the cones to prevail in 1:54. Naughtytiltheend (Brent Holland) closed for second--beaten three-quarters of a length--with Synergy Seelster (MacDonald) rallying for third. Breakheart Pass tired to last.
For Fox Valley Sage, an 8-year-old daughter of Richess Hanover owned by Stephen Farrell Jr. and trained by Ralph Andersen, she returned $6.10 (second choice) for her third win in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $38.60, with the triple returning $227.50.
2nd division--In a battle of 9-10 shots, slight choice Anndrovette (Tim Tetrick, $3.80) stole a soft (:29.2) opening quarter, stung Western Silk (Brennan) before letting that one go at the 57-second half, then picked her off late. She won by a length in 1:53.1. Shacked Up (Buter) was third, beaten five lengths.
For Anndrovette, a 5-year-old statebred daughter of Riverboat King trained by PJ Fraley for co-owners Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino, she's now 2-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $7.70, with the triple returning $18.80. 
3rd division--Chancey Lady (Tetrick), who shared the glory with See You at Peelers a week ago, hogged the headlines here. Leaving from post position No. 3, she took it to the house (:27.4, :56.2, 1:24.2), defeating 3-4 choice Rocklamation (Brennan) in a match race by a half-length in 1:52.2. Summer Snow (Jordan Stratton) was a best-of-the-rest third.
Chancey Lady, a 7-year-old Camluck miss trained by Fraley for owner Baron Racing, returned $6.30 (second choice) for her second win in five '12 tries. The exacta paid $13.40, with the triple returning $135.50.
5th division--Pole-sitting Queen of Royalty (Buter) stalked 3-5 favorite Krispy Apple (Tetrick), was pointed to the passing lane, and tripped out against a first-up Ginger and Fred (Bartlett) in  season's-best 1:53.. Hula's Z Tam (Pat Lachance) closed from last to grab third, while Krispy Apple faded to fifth.
For Queen of Royalty, an 8-year-old Albert Albert ma'am owned and trained by Allen Sisco, he returned $22.60 for her third win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $107.50, with the triple returning $379.
Friday's $33,000 Open Trot was won by Flex the Muscle (Jeff Gregory, $15) in 1:56.3 
Yonkers' five-night-per-week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday) live schedule continues. First post for all programs remains at 7:10 PM.  Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule (note that NYRA is dark the next two Sundays).

Friday, March 30, 2012


In the second of a series of trotting contests for amateur drivers who are members of the C.K.G Billings Series went to post on Friday afternoon, March 30th at Freehold Raceway and when the dust had settled “Roundhouse Rob” Krivelin scored a decisive three length victory with his Ace High Hall in a time of 2:01.

Second under the wire was Uncle Freddie driven by “Coach Paul” Minore but due to a racing infraction Uncle Freddie was placed out of the money. That move by the judges enabled Black Watch and driver “Mike the Tyke” Weiner to get second money and Travelin Preacher, with “Smokin’ Joe” Faraldo aboard ,was moved up to third place.
But the day belonged to the New York City food purveyor, Rob Krivekin and his trusty trotter Ace High Hall.

After being content to follow the lead set by  Dave “Steady As “Yarock with Consulate,  Krivelin waited until the backstretch before asking Ace High Hall  for some trot and when he did the duo  sped by Yarock ’s steed and opened daylight on the field. In the lane Ace High Hall was never in trouble and coasted to an easy victory.
"After the serious challengers, Peter Gerry (with Admirable Hanover) and Paul  Minore (with  Uncle Freddie)  made breaks early I felt like I got the Obama- bailout,”  Krivelin said after his victory. “ Once they were out it was all me and though Minore was challenging in the  stretch I knew he’d be dq’d because his trotter left the racetrack in the first turn.”  He then he added: “I’m giving fair warning to all the Jews  who’ll be driving in Monticello’s upcoming Passover Pace that I am in top form and ready  to win two in a row there.”

The triumph with Ace High Hall, who paid $7.60 for win, was Krivlein’s first driving victory of the season and the 129th of his amateur career.
The pre-Billings Trots put on by Freehold are allowing Billings members a tune-up prior to the 31st season of the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing getting underway in late April.


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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, March 30, 2012--Yonkers Raceway's stakes agenda continues next week, led by a pair of rich series finals.

Monday night, the $66,400 finale of the Petticoat Pacing Series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares goes as the sixth race.

Sir Jillian Z Tam (Pat Lachance) won the draw and was given the mantle of morning-line favorite on the strength of wins in her last two series prelim efforts. The 4-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight, co-owned (with Z Tam Racing and Ira Rosenblum) and trained by Lachance, is 4-for-8 this season.

Look Annie Hall (George Brennan, post 3), Vy Hanover (Jordan Stratton, post 4) and Southwind Trini (Cat Manzi, post 5) are among the formidable foes.

Tuesday night, it's the richest local race of the season to date, the $70,400 final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series for 3- and 4-year-old colts and geldings going as the sixth race.

Early favoritism was given to Cam B Zipper (Jason Bartlett, post 3), one of two combatants to sweep all three preliminary legs. The 4-year-old Cammibest gelding, co-owned by Allen Kaplan, Howard Taylor, Rojan and LA Express Stables and trained by Mike Hall, is nearing a quarter-million dollars in career earnings.

Avenue Hanover (Dan Dube, post 7), also 3-for-3 in the trials, has won a third of his 27 career starts. The 4-year-old son of  Cam's Card Shark is owned and trained by Mark Silva.

Stakes/series action continues next weekend, with Round 3 of both the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series set for Friday and Saturday, respectively.    

Yonkers' five-night-per-week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday) live schedule continues. First post for all programs remains at 7:10 PM.  Evening simulating accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulating available around the NYRA schedule (please be advised NYRA is dark the next two Sundays).


After having an award winning year during the 2011 campaign  in his native  Pine Tree State, Kevin Switzer, Jr.  tested the waters at Monticello Raceway over the winter months and found it to his liking. But Switzer isn’t the only one that  is pleased. In recent weeks local trainers have availed themselves of Switzer’s driving talents and the 24 year old reinsman is moving ahead big time.

On March 19th Switzer had his first four-bagger here and yesterday, March 29th he matched that total scoring four winning drives on the eight-race card. And before the day was done Switzer added two second place finishes to his daily total.

After finishing fourth in the second race on the card, Switzer then proceeded to win both the third and fourth races. He scored a  2:00.4 victory with Danby Racing Inc.’s Sweepstake Jake ($9.70) and then copped the fourth with Dr. Donald Roth’s trotter Vijay Star ($3.60) in 2:04.

After two consecutive second place finishes in the next two contests Switzer then won another pair. He won the seventh with Charles Droege’s Lady On The Attack ($7.20) in 2:00 and then won the eighth  and final race with Mike Funke’s Comanche Hall ($5.20) in a 1:59.4 clocking.

“I had some live mounts and they raced well for me today,” Switzer said at days end. “I’m really appreciative of the local trainers who are allowing me to drive their horses.”

Recently it’s been odd  for  Switzer’s mounts not to make the board and his universal driving  average has been steadily moving up as has his win total.

With his latest flurry Switzer’s UDR has swelled to .359 and his 34 driving victories in just 170 starts currently ranks him seventh on the local leaderboard.

Calx1 - Sharp Pacers Square Off In Saturday Cal Expo Headliner

Cycle Power, who is going in career form at the moment with back-to-back victories in impressive style; and Albion, who has gone some monster miles of late at Cal Expo, are among the major players in Saturday’s (March 31) $4,500 Winners-over Pace.

Set to take on this sharp pair are the classy mare Haggin Oaks, One And Only, Marlin Hanover and Amigo De Garcia.  The race goes as the third on a 15-race program.

Cycle Power is a 6-year-old son of Cambest and the Life Sign mare Life Cycle who is owned and trained by Nathalie Tremblay.  He came into his March 17 assignment in an optional seller having clicked just one in his first eight appearances on the year, but has really come around in the few weeks.

He exploded late over a sloppy track to collar heavily-favored Albion that night with James Kennedy guiding, then returned to pull an $18 surprise at the top rung at most recent asking.  Lemoyne Svendsen handled the reins in that last decision and will be back for Saturday’s joust.

They sat patiently for a half, made a huge move while wide off the final bend and proved clearly best through the lane with two and a quarter lengths to spare.  It will be interesting to see if Cycle Power can keep the streak alive this weekend.

Albion is a son of The Panderosa who carries the banner of Dan Tullio, James Mascola and trainer Matias Ruiz.  The dark-hued performer has returned to the charmed enclosure following five of his 11 appearances on the year, including a seven-length romp at most recent asking with Luke Plano handling the lines.  He is closing in on $100,000 in earnings and recorded his 1:52.4 mark here in February.


Congratulations to Jim Lackey, who has been nominated to represent the United States Trotting Association in the 25th International Harness Drivers Championship that will be raced at the historic Moscow Hippodrome on April 14 and 15.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 30) & Saturday (March 31) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.  On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s.  Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

Calx1 - Alberto Pacheco Getting His Chance In The Sulky At Cal Expo

Friday, March 30, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Alberto Pacheco is one of the new faces in the bike at Cal Expo, as the 24-year-old attempts to make his mark in the local driving colony.

Pacheco has pedigree connections to the sport, as his father Juan is an owner and his uncle Lino is one the top conditioners on the grounds.  He arrived here from Mexico six years ago and was immediately mesmerized by the trotters and pacers.

“In Mexico I had worked with quarter horses, but this was the first time I saw harness racing and I knew this is where I wanted to be,” Alberto explained.  “The way these horses move so smoothly and the chance to drive them got me hooked right away.”

Pacheco spent four years under the watchful eye of Lou Pena, while the last two have seen him working for Jim Wilkinson Jr.

“Both of them have been great teachers.  I learned quite a bit with Lou Pena, and now Jim Wilkinson is showing me even more.

“I also got a lot of help from Matias Ruiz and Gretchen Smith, who helped me with getting horses for my qualifying drives, and Scott Cisco and Rich Wojcio have been giving me plenty of tips about what to do and what not to do out there.  They also made sure I had the right equipment for driving in the rain.”

Pacheco’s normal day at the Wilkinson shedrow finds him arriving around 6:30, as he tends to the five horses under his care while making sure each one does their appointed rounds on the racetrack. He is also gaining valuable experience helping train the babies with Wilkinson.

“It’s a great education, and you keep learning every day,” Alberto noted.  “My goal is to eventually get my own barn and be driver and trainer.  I’d like to have it all.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Last year, for the first time, Bob Krivelin competed in Monticello Raceway’s Passover Pace and he walked away a winner after he reined Whitaker Blue Chip to a 2:01.4 triumph in the “Race For The Matzos’.

“I felt like Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt,” Krivelin joked  after winning the race which features the talents of drivers of Jewish heritage last season and on Thursday, April 12 Krivelin will be back in the sulky to defend his crown.
“I don’t usually drive pacers but let me tell you they are a whole lot easier to handle than  some of the trotters I’ve been driving lately,” he offered.

The 14th Annual Passover Pace will be the third leg of Monticello Raceway’s Heritage Drivers Series,  a sequence of races throughout the year  which features  various ethnic groups who enjoy driving harness horses and the winners of each heritage event will convene later in the fall to  compete in the series finale, the All-America Cup.
“The All-America moniker  pertains to America, herself, since the greatest country on earth consists of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, “ explained Eric Warner, the tracks director of racing.

The winners of each Heritage Drivers Series preliminary will earn the right to compete in the All-America Cup. Already with a berth in the series finale are Bobby “Boonie” Williams, Jr. and Jimmy Taggart, Jr.. Williams won the Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Pace for drivers of African-America heritage while Taggart was victorious in the St. Paddy Pace for drivers of Irish heritage.
Prior to Krivelin’s acceptance to defend his title already confirmed to compete in this year’s  Passover Pace are Alan Charles, Peter Kleinhans, Mike Kimelman and Alan Schwartz.

For further information concerning the event  interested parties are asked to contact Warner in the race office by calling 845-794-4100 ext 557. Or they can call the track’s publicity office at ext. 455

Calx1 - Ivegotwhatuneed, Stanza Hold Friday Night Spotlight At Cal Expo

Ivegotwhatuneed and Stanza, who chased home the very sharp Albion last week, get away from that rival and head the cast at Cal Expo for Friday night’s (March 30) $3,600 main event for the pacing set.

Ivegotwhatuneed will be one of two Bob Johnson trainees in the line-up with Myra’s Hiho also representing the shedrow.  The former is a 9-year-old son of Givemewhatineed who is owned by his conditioner and Marty Garey and will have Lemoyne Svendsen back at the controls.

The veteran is closing in on the $300,000 earnings plateau with a 1:52 mark that was established three years ago.  He was a distant runner-up behind Albion last weekend and is overdue for his first snapshot of the season.

Stanza is a Mark Benvenga color-bearer who is reined and trained by Steve Wiseman and is coming off a fifth-place finish in that swift Albion contest.

The son of Power Of Art has two wins from six starts this year, the most recent coming in a lifetime best 1:53.2 clocking on January 21 under these same conditions.  He fits quite nicely in this line-up and figures to make his presence felt in the serious stages.

Rounding out the field are Myra’s Hiho, who will have the services of Scott Cisco from the one-hole; while Jim Wilkinson Jr. is sending out a pair in Ra Ra Steven, to be guided by Rich Wojcio and Whipped Dreams, who has Luke Plano at the helm.

The aforementioned Albion will move back up to the Winners-over Pace on Saturday (March 31), where he will square off against the likes of the very sharp Cycle Power and the hard-knocking mare Haggin Oaks.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 30) & Saturday (March 31) at 6:00 p.m. (PST).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.   On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s.  Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.

Calx1 - Funny Guy Pulls A Fast One At Cal Expo

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - by Mark Ratzky, Publicity -- Cal Expo

Most players expected trainer Matias Ruiz to be posing for pictures at Cal Expo after last Friday night’s (March 23) 10th race as he sent out the 2-5 shot Shoot The Works from the cozy rail slot.

While they were right his trainee would land in the circle, it turned out to be the 18-1 Funny Guy who got the job done as he overpowered his more highly-regarded stable-mate by a length and a half with Anthony Succarotte doing the honors.

Dave Siegel owns the 5-year-old Illinois-bred son of Park Place, who was making his first start in over a month but did have a facile qualifying mile under his belt to keep him on edge.

“He’s turned out to be a nice claim,” Siegel said.  “Matias liked the way horse traveled and he had a good string of races back East.  I liked what I saw and thought Matias could improve the horse.

“I won my first start with him and then finished second before moving up and winning for $3,500, which seems to be the right level for him.  He had some back luck after that, falling after getting loose in the barn area and sustaining a minor injury.  After that he had a shoeing issue, so it meant more time off to recover.”

Funny Guy returned with an easy qualifying score over a good track, then recorded last week’s upset over his odds-on barn-mate.

“He obviously raced real well and I was only sorry I wasn’t available to drive him,” Siegel noted.  “Tony did an excellent job.  I’ll be back driving in April and look forward to getting behind him.  He is a lot of fun to drive.”

Dave is still beaming about the Sunshine Pro-Am Drivers Challenge that took place earlier this month at Pompano Park and saw the four-man team from California edge out the squad from Florida in what proved to be an excellent two nights of racing over that five-eighths oval.

“What a wonderful event it was,” Siegel related.  “The weather was great and the horsemen treated us very well.  My hat is off to John Yinger (Director of Racing) and Jamie Marra (President of the local amateur club) for working to put this together.  Handle was noticeably up and combining our series with the Legends race made for a special Pick Four sequence.”

“I was happy that Luke Plano could visit with his family and Steve Wiseman was able to make a trip to warm weather with his daughter,” said Siegel.  “I have to tell you, I have never rooted for another driver like I was when they were coming down the stretch in the final race.

“I knew I was out of it, so I was cheering for Luke.  After that I switched to Rick Bertrand when he sped past me and it was clear he was going to catch Luke.  We came away with a victory and eked out the win in the team series.  What a way to finish and I could not have been happier for Rick.”

Each member of the California squad got a trip to the winner’s circle in the series, with Siegel prevailing in the opener with Lucky Hit.

“Six years ago, when I first started driving, Clay and Peggy Faurot put me on some horses when I was just cutting my teeth and were so nice.  As luck would have it, I drew their horse in the first leg.  They had purchased the horse a few weeks earlier from Ed Hensley, who was first trainer and driving mentor.  Ed let me use his UFO bike and I won.

“Some of my family was there, which was the icing on the cake.  It was the first winner’s circle photo I’ve ever had with my mom.”

Siegel also reports that the 2012 installment of the East-West Amateur Driving Challenge will take place here on April 13 and 14. 

The Californian contingent has won four of the first six annual events, but the Easterners have assembled their most competitive team ever and looking to make it two in a row.  For the first time, all four Eastern drivers are making a return trip to the left coast.

Team East, comprised of four of its historically strongest Billings drivers, will be treated to spring in The Golden State, and four races on each of two weekend nights.  Local horsemen will enjoy increased purses for the events and fans will be treated to seeing a variation to the professional drivers they see night in and night out at the track.

Joe Faraldo, with 134 lifetime wins, leads the Eastern Team which has amassed 309 career victories between them.  Veteran amateurs Peter Gerry, Steve Oldford and Tony Verruso round out the squad, all of which have 40 or more victories to their credit.

Team West has quite a different look to it.  Overall, the Californians pale in years of driving experience, but their two most experienced drivers race much more frequently than their Eastern Brethren.  Dave Siegel (189 wins) and Rick Bertrand (38 wins) lead the western contingent with relative newcomers Amanda Fraser and Karen Isbell, who have each been driving for less than two years.  Home field advantage will be in Team West’s favor, but the combined experience of the Billing’s Boys will be running in their favor.

Alan Kirschenbaum, California Harness Horseman’s Association President remarked,
“The CHHA is happy to continue to support the Challenge as it has the last several years.  As an avid amateur myself, I know how much diversity amateur driving brings to our program out here and all over North America.  We are particularly appreciative of the Billings group traveling such a long distance to support this unique series.”

Dave Elliott, Cal-Expo’s General Manager agreed. 

“We love the notion of this special annual amateur event.  Amateur racing is at the historic heart of harness racing and we are happy to endorse it.  Our local club and the Billing organization are shining examples of what can be accomplished in amateur competition.”

TrackMaster will be providing Racing Fans free programs for the two-day event on their web site.

For information about the California Amateur Driving Club, the Challenge or Amateur Driving in general, please visit

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

M1 - Meadowlands Barn Notes - March 28, 2012

Irish Trainer Enjoying Greener Pastures At Meadowlands  

Feegee may have the luck o’ the Irish on her side in Friday’s kick off of the Spring Survivor Series at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Conway Hall filly, trained by 29-year-old Dublin, Ireland native Joe Hanney, has drawn post six in the first of two $12,500 divisions, carded as races two and four.  Hall of Famer Ron Pierce picked up the assignment. 

Despite his roots in harness racing, Haney originally aspired to be a thoroughbred jockey. 

“Back in Ireland I actually trained to be a rider until genetics kicked in with my weight and height,” Hanney said.  “So, I got back into harness racing, grooming and driving horses.  My grandfather was a renowned Standardbred trainer who was very good with problem horses.  We have a small industry back home.  They race from April to October on the grass and half-mile tracks.”

With the sport in decline in his home country, Hanney sought greener pastures across the Atlantic

“I emigrated from Ireland in 2007, and went to Canada first,” he said.  “I had worked for Liam Wallace, then Nifty Norman invited me to come to New Jersey.  I was with Nifty for a year, and then Joe Holloway for a couple of years.  Initially, I knew Anthony Haughan, who had come over to Ontario with some success, and it just seemed like a good idea to give it try at the time.  I was 23 and single, and thankfully things have worked out.

“I have a stable at White Birch Farm (in Englishtown, NJ), and right now with my girlfriend, Liisa Vatanen, we train 15 horses.  Liisa worked for Trond Smedshammer and cared for a really good trotter named Sand Vic (1:51.2, $2,117,382).  She also worked with Tony Alagna.  So, together we’ve been pretty fortunate to be involved with a lot of successful people.”

Originally a $16,000 yearling purchase at Harrisburg, Feegee moved into the Hanney Stable this season.  Feegee started her sophomore campaign in the Syrinx Hanover Series with a pair of fourths, and then finished a close a second in the $37,000 final.

“Feegee is owned by some people from Finland (Multi Racing Stable’s Anssi Suominen),” he said.  “She was trained by Bernie Noren last year.  Bernie moved to Canada and this filly was at a turnout farm here in New Jersey.  We were friends with a girl that worked there, the owners were looking for a trainer, and she pointed this horse in our direction.

“Feegee has really worked out well for us so far.  She’s not a very big filly, yet turns her speed okay.  She had a couple of minor issues last year but - knock on wood - she’s been problem-free for us.  After winning her qualifier at the Meadowlands, she finished fourth in both Syrinx Hanover divisions, but only got beat about a length each time.  So, I was a little surprised she wasn’t one of the favorites in that final.  She ended up second.  I guess being the underdog is a good thing sometimes.    

“We’re trying to keep her sound and sharp on the big track, and eventually we’re hoping to try her in New York Sires Stakes on the smaller tracks.  I’m sure she’s going to make some noise for us there.”

Hanney also sends out In Nomine Patri from post nine in the ninth race.  The four-year-old gelding by Credit Winner, owned by Hanney’s girlfriend, Liisa Vatanen, makes a drop in class and picks up driver Jim Morrill Jr. 

“We bought him at last year’s January Mixed Sale for $38,000.  We saw quite a bit of potential in him.  At the time, he was a three-year-old with not a lot of starts, and we liked his look.  He’s got some gait speed, and if he gets away near the back he doesn’t have a great kick come home.  Again, he can leave and likes to be on the front.  If he’s driven that way he can pick up a nice check almost every time.”

Eiler Eyes Spring Survivor Series

Philadelphia police officer Owen Eiler Jr. will send out a pair of starters, including Markz Moose in the Spring Survivor Series, on Friday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The 49-year-old trainer had an early season success with Super Bowl Series champion Dontevenknowmymame. He will try to keep that momentum going with Markz Moose in the first bracket of the Spring Survivor for three-year-old trotters.

Markz Moose, a gelding by Classic Photo, drew post three with Dave Miller driving in the second of two $12,500 divisions, carded as races two and four.

“Howard and Josh Kaufman bought him at the January Mixed Sale for $15,000,” Eiler recalled. “I just happened to be there with my Super Bowl Series success. They also bought Paris Kentucky at that sale and I actually liked that one better.”

Markz Moose finished third in his first start for Eiler at Harrah’s Chester before unleashing a 1:55.1 lifetime best at the Pennsylvania oval on March 22.

“Ron Pierce was impressed with him after that mile,” Eiler noted. “He was just sitting there and had time to spare. We really haven’t done anything with the horse, just some tender loving care. He’s a maturing three-year-old. I believe he’s eligible to the Dexter Cup and few other events in New Jersey. Hopefully, we have a few profitable months ahead of us. We’re in a tough division.”

Eiler also has his own Ahlbback Yankee in race 12. Leaving from the rail, the four-year-old mare by Electric Yankee ships into a class-drop situation.

“I bought her from the same guy I purchased Dontevenknowmymame from, Scott Cox,” he said. “He was trying to sell her privately and I kept putting off buying her. Then, he put her in the Delaware, Ohio Mixed Sale, and I paid $6,700 or $6,800.”

Allbback Yankee sports a $14,000 claiming tag on Friday.

“She raced well two starts back at Chester when she rallied for third,” he said. “They just sprinted away from her last week. She’s a little lazy but, if you make her work, she’ll go. I’m hoping the bigger track is going to help her, and she’s not facing a very tough field. I figured I’d give her shot.”

Eiler obtained his trainer’s license only a little over a year ago upon the urging of his children, yet has actually been racing at the Meadowlands for a number of years.

“I’ve been around there for awhile,” he said. “I’ve had horses with Eddie Sager and Frank Petrelli. I really like racing at the Meadowlands. I just wish it was a little bit closer. Traffic on the Turnpike can come to a standstill.”


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

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, March 28, 2012--"Six" was the magic number of divisions in last week's opening round of Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series.

As luck would have it, "six" is again the defining digit for Saturday night's second round, as in races 3,4,6,7,8 and $50,000 a pop.

All six winners from their first-round forays are back in search of encores.

Real Nice, who was able to get the better of a stubborn, season-debuting Foiled Again last week (local season's-fastest 1:51.1), landed the pylons as the 4-5 early choice in the opening event. Jason Bartlett again drives the defending series champ for trainer Rich Banca. Real Nice, a 7-year-old Real Artist gelding, becomes a millionaire with any payday here.

Among his rivals in Reibercrombie (Brian Sears, post 7), who was a 15-1 upsetter in his first-round group.

Triple millionaire Foiled Again, who won this series in 2009 and 2010, also looms a puny parimutuel proposition. The 3-5 early choice landed post No.2 in the final event, with Yannick Gingras again seated for trained Ron Burke.

Strand Hanover (Sears, post 6), a solid, off-the-pace winner a week ago, has three consecutive victories at three different ovals.

A pair of first-round winners, Atochia (Gingras, post 1) and Art Z (Brett Miller, post 3), oppose one another in the second Levy division. The former has earned in excess of $1.3 million during his career, while the latter has won his last couple, including the $78.400 final of the Meadowlands’ Four Leaf Clover.

Yonkers' five-night-per-week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday) live schedule continues. First post for all programs remains at 7:10 PM.  Evening simulating accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulating available around the NYRA schedule (please be advised NYRA is dark the next two Sundays).


After getting beat in his last two starts , on March 27th  Imposter  A  returned to the heard of the class  in races won this year in North America when the Australian-bred pacer  rambled to an eight-length victory  for Mike Forte at Monticello Raceway. They turned  back SF Exposed (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) and Roan Shark ( Zeke Parker) in a time of 1:58.

Forte, off to  his best seasonal start in years scored his 63rd driving victory in 2012 and  reined Imposter A to his eighth triumph of the season which put the pacer back on top on the North American leaderboard,  albeit that he shares that distinction with three others. In his  12 starts this year Imposter A has eight wins and two seconds and his latest victory equals the 9-year-old Fake Left gelding’s seasonal best.

Owned by C&F Associates  of Hillsdale, NJ and trained by Elisha Lafreniere Imposter A paid $2.60 to win.

Ppk5/8 - Brown Uncovers OSS Hopeful At Pompano

A sure sign of the oncoming spring season emerged in South Florida on the Tuesday, March 27 program as Canadian Hall Of Famer Doug Brown unveiled Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) hopeful Kylie Hall for the first start of her three year old season. She was last seen on the track on November 12 at Woodbine in the 2011 OSS Gold Superfinal. She did not win as a two year old but did bank over $32,000 along the OSS Gold Series trail. The daughter of Striking Sahbra-Keystone Charity was a $12,000 purchase by Brown's ABC Stable of Bowmanville, ON as hip 646 in the 2010 Harrisburg Sale.

In her three year old season's debut at the South Florida plant, Kylie Hall didn't seem to mind the swirling winds coming in from the east off of the Atlantic Ocean as she stepped to a flawless victory in 2:01. In the middle stages she put away the first over challenge of 4 year old rival Guiding Hand in rein to Rick Plano. In the stretch, Dan Clements wheeled out Yankee Pinstripes from a second over trip and that Dave McGinnis pupil had to settle for the runner-up spot. Perfect OMF, with trainer Jan Johnson in the bike, brushed in for the show position. Kylie Hall prepped for the win under the lights with a 1:58.3 qualifying spin on March 17 and she was sent off as the 1-9 favorite.    

Also on the March 27 program, an $8,000 claiming pace was decided in 1:52.4 in favor of Artsplace-Lady OTRA 5 year old gelding Premier. Dan Clements was in the bike to engineer the off the pace win in life's record time for the pacer, trained by Shawn Glassmeyer for Ingrid Glassmeyer of Pompano Beach. Scoot Diablo in rein to Fern Paquet Jr. was second and Please Come Back partnered by Rick Schaut overcame the outside start in the field of eight to take down third at 39-1.

Tuesday cards are now concluded for the meet which runs through July. Post time in April and May is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Free race night live streaming, handicapping selections by Hall Of Famer John Berry, the replays archive and much more is available in the 'racing' tab at .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


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

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, March 27, 2012--After five divisions in last week's opening round of Yonkers Raceway's Blue Chip Matchmaker, another quintet is on tap for Friday night's second leg.

The groupings of Open Mare pacers —each worth $40,000-- go as races 4,6,7,8 and 9 on the dozen-race dossier. Post time is the customary 7:10 PM.

The dead-heat (1:52.4) duo of See You at Peelers and Chancey Lady are back it, albeit in different districts.

"Peelers," sharing the glory in her seasonal debut, is the morning-line choice in the fourth division, where she drew outside her six rivals. The 4-year-old daughter of Bettor's Delight went over the $1.5 million career plateau with last week's half-a-loaf.

Chancey Lady drew post No. 3 in the third event, with Tim Tetrick back across the river for a Friday night. The 7-year-old daughter of Camluck cut the mile a week ago, then held for a heater while going over $1.9 million in lifetime loot. She landed right next door to Rocklamation (George Brennan, post 4), who rallied powerfully from last to author a 10-1, first-round upset.

P Note Blue Chip (Sears, post 7) went up and over in her division a week ago, her fourth win in eight seasonal starts. 

Western Silk, arguably with the best Week 1 effort in a wrapped-up, 1:52.3 victory, drew post No. 2 in the second division. The 5-year-old Western Terror miss was accorded slight early favoritism (by the author) over Anndrovette (Tetrick, post 3). Mystical Diva. another opening-round winner, landed the six-hole with Sears retaining that assignment.

Yonkers' five-night-per-week (Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday) live schedule continues. First post for all programs remains at 7:10 PM.  Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.

Ppk5/8 - Uszak, Ornellaia Dream Garner Pompano Awards

You can't ask a horse to do much than win all of their starts and take a life's record in a single month. For those achievements 7 year old trotting mare Ornellaia Dream and her groom, Joan Uszak, were an easy and overwhelming choice for the February Horse And Groom Of The Month Awards at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.

In the monthly ceremony before the 3rd race of the March 26 card at the South Florida venue, Uszak received the monthly cash award to the groom of the winning horse as selected by the Florida chapter of The United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA).

Left to Right: Jean Emerson, Kathleen Dempsey, Joan Uszak, Fred Segal, John Berry, Rosie Huff.  Florida USHWA chapter members make the Horse and Groom Of the Month award for February to Joan Uszak. (Skip Smith Photo)
"Ornellaia Dream is a real sweetheart to work with, not nearly as fussy as the other good mare Feel L A that we have in our barn" Uszak says. "This award is really well timed too, since the trainer I work for, Gaston Glaude, is dealing with a health issue right now. He's a true gentleman and a great horseman and has a real niche for the small but productive stable of trotters we campaign here at Pompano" Uszak added.

Against $8,000 claiming company last month, Ornellaia Dream swept to victory in all three starts with Tom Sells in the bike. The daughter of Fortuna Winner-Ornellaia topped off February with a life's record 1:57 performance on February 29. In addition to Feel L A, the Gaston Glaude stable also includes Pompano stalwart performers such as Duke Of Stormont and P C Moonshine.

"I've been grooming horses for almost 50 years since I started in Ohio back in 1964" Uszak told Pompano and USHWA's John Berry in a live trackside TV interview. "One of my best known bosses along the way was Ralph Baldwin for Castleton Farms. In that era I groomed Snow Speed who was the only horse to defeat the legendary Nevele Pride three times. I'm here at 5 a.m. every day, and if we're in a late race it means being here until about midnight but you just have to love what you do and help the horses relax and enjoy their work. Those have been the keys to the career I've had an am still enjoying" Uszak added.

Following the March 27 program, Tuesday cards are dropped from the schedule in April. Post time in April and May is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Free race night live streaming, handicapping selections by Hall Of Famer John Berry, the replays archive and much more is available in the 'racing' tab at .

Monday, March 26, 2012


{MONTICELLO, N.Y. -- Mar. 26, 2012} Monticello Raceway announced today that it is taking precautions to limit its exposure to an occurrence of streptococcus equi, commonly known as strangles, at Saratoga Harness Raceway.  Strangles is a non-lethal, acute bacterial respiratory infection characterized by fever, lethargy, nasal discharge and swollen lymph nodes in horses.

Monticello Raceway management has prohibited horses that have raced or were stabled at Saratoga Harness Raceway access to the barn or track at Monticello Raceway. Additionally, no horses will be allowed to ship-in, nor will any horse trailers be allowed to enter the Monticello grounds until further notice. Although horses can leave the grounds, they will not be allowed to return until such time that Monticello Raceway deems precautionary measures are not necessary.
These preventative measures may result in smaller race fields over the next eight to ten racing days at Monticello.  Management will continue to monitor the situation in coordination with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.

Lon - The Raceway Proves The Ticket For Royal Outlook

LONDON, Ontario . . . A change of scenery, and racetrack, has worked wonders for Royal Outlook who has proven to be one of the most consistent harness horses so far this 2012 racing season. The four-year-old gelding will vie for his seventh win of the year in today’s eight race at The Raceway at Western Fair District where he’s excelled since his arrival late last year.

Trainer Dan Creighton’s Danterra Racing Stable of Strathroy claimed Royal Outlook last November at Woodbine for $15,000 and shifted his focus to racing at The Raceway and Royal Outlook has certainly taken to his new racing surface. Since he was claimed he has never finished off the board.

He has six wins, three seconds and two thirds since arriving in Creighton’s barn for just a tick under $40,000 in earnings. His performances, along with his stablemates, has propelled Creighton to the top of the trainers’ standings at The Raceway this season with 30 victories so far in 2012, double his closest competitor.

A son of Royal Mattjesty, Royal Outlook will leave from post four in the eighth race today, a $10,500 pace, at the London, Ontario track with the track’s leading driver, Trevor Henry, in the bike. Henry, who has 79 wins at The Raceway so far this year, has driven Royal Outlook in all but one of his starts since he moved to London.

The Raceway’s 12 race card gets underway at 4:05 p.m. today. Program pages and live video coverage are available through this link

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Calx1 - Little Franks Best Stands Tall At Cal Expo

Sunday, March 25, 2012 - by Scott Ehrlich, Publicity – Cal Expo

Mother Nature huffed and puffed, but couldn't blow Franks Best down.

A field of five Winners-Over trotters, racing for a purse of $4,500, were featured at Cal Expo on a fairly windy Saturday night (March 24), on which Franks Best scored for the 23rd time in his career.

Softly leaving from his assigned post-five to get around a longshot opponent, the five year-old came away fourth into a :29 opening quarter.  Staying put in the second quarter while racing tight, driver Lemoyne Svendsen was forced to change his strategy when the pace-setting Putoneonnetformom (James Kennedy) scooted off by 2-3/4 lengths at the half-mile juncture, timed in :58.3.

"I really didn't want to pull yet at that point," stated Svendsen.  "But Putoneonnetformom was starting to get away from me too far, so I knew I had to go."

With Kennedy having a good handful with his trotter to the final-turn while now on top by four-lengths, Svendsen moved his charged uncovered just past the 9-16ths mile marker and started moving forward, but with a little hitch in his giddy-up while four-lengths from Putoneonnetformom midway through the final-turn.

"He did have a little bit of a bounce to him, but the wind was affecting him a lot around the last turn and was blowing him all over the place because he's just a little guy.  At that point all I wanted to do was get around Giles L S Hanover (Steve Wiseman) and get back to the inside."

Crossing over to the inside as he wanted while now racing in second, Franks Best suddenly picked up Putoneonnetformom to the three-quarter mile pole (1;27.4) and cut the margin to a diminishing three-lengths with a quarter of a mile to go.

“As soon as I cleared Giles and went inside, it seemed like it cut a hole in the wind for me and my horse closed the gap right away.  I knew I had Putoneonnetformom beat then."

Quickly narrowing the gap to only 1-1/2 lengths and out for the drive with 3-16ths left to trot, Svendsen didn't have to do much to get the lead.

"I pulled him and hardly had to urge him - - just a few light taps and he went right by at the seven-eighths and would be real good through the stretch."

Only under just a bit of minor urging until late, the gelding won ($3.80) pretty comfortably by 1-1/4 lengths.  Bred, owned & trained by Bob Johnson, Franks Best stopped the timer at 1:57.4, a seasonal best while repeating.  Putoneonnetformom finished in second, and Shelby County (Rocky Stidham) finished a half of one-length farther back, in third.

"He was fine,  he was real good," finished Svendsen. 

On the 15-race program, leader driver Luke Plano had six winners.

Live racing resumes at Cal Expo on Friday (March 30) & Saturday (March 31) at 6:00 p.m. (PDT).  On every live card, Cal Expo offers free parking & free admission after 4:30 p.m.   On Friday, Cal Expo offers Happy Hour from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on which Beer; Well Drinks & Wine are offered at $4 each, while a Burger with fries is offered at $5.

Cal Expo currently offers a reduced 15 percent takeout rate on all Pick 4’s.  Additionally, all Late Pick 4’s now come with an increased $20,000-guaranteed gross pool.  Also, the Friday Late Pick 4 will offer a 0% takeout on all winning wagers made on track or at, while the Saturday Late Pick 4 will be broadcast on TVG.