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Friday, November 30, 2012


MANALAPAN, NJ – November 30, 2012 -- The loss of New Jersey stallions to slots-enriched programs in other states is now a reality.

Perretti Farms in Cream Ridge, NJ has announced that it has moved two of the harness racing industry’s premier stallions to Pennsylvania for the 2013 breeding season.

Muscles Yankee and Rocknroll Hanover will be relocated from Perretti’s 1,000 acres of prime farmland in Upper Freehold Township across the state line to Newtown, PA to take advantage of the casino-enriched purses in Pennsylvania, especially the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes program.

The New Jersey Sire Stakes program, which for three decades was the model for other states and provinces, is now one of the weakest because of the paucity of purse money.

“New Jersey is no longer competitive, putting more than 170,000 acres of equine farmland in jeopardy,” said Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association President Tom Luchento.  “Without a healthy breeding program, the stallions and broodmares will move – have moved -- to adjoining states where they are flushed with the cash from casinos and racinos [racetracks with casino-style wagering]. 

“Not only is the preservation of farmland at stake, but also more than 10,000 jobs currently filled by tax-paying residents who are ill-equipped to change careers and will end up on welfare rolls,” Luchento added. 

“Trenton continues to focus on ways to improve Atlantic City and other businesses which provide fewer jobs, while the horseracing industry gets pushed aside,” Luchento said.  “They have tried to Band-Aid the problem with a few short term solutions.  Meanwhile, the wound continues to grow, and the decision by Perretti Farms is a pure product of that injury.

“Anthony Perretti and his father, Bill, do not want to move their stallions from New Jersey,” Luchento explained.  “But they have no choice but to protect the value of their stallions.  The yearlings they sold this fall dropped in value in large part because the New Jersey Sire Stakes program and the purse structure at the Meadowlands have been eviscerated.  Meanwhile, the surrounding states value their horse racing industry and offer great purses.  New Jersey simply cannot compete unless things in this state begin to change,”

Breeding a race horse is a three-year process and decisions made now have an impact in the years ahead.

“These are not decisions that can be ‘kicked down the road,’” Luchento said.  “Our leadership in Trenton needs to start supporting horse racing before the horses all leave the state.  Coupling horse racing with casinos has been a winning combination in states like Pennsylvania and New York.  Gaming helps supplement the purses in those states, making them a magnet for breeding stock and racehorses.  The loser in this contest has been New Jersey.

Our state needs to take on a similar model in order to save the horse racing industry and help us reinvigorate this great sport,” he added.  “New Jersey needs to offer better purses in order to attract the best horses, trainers and drivers.  For more than 30 years, the position of New Jersey as the No. 1 harness racing state was unquestioned.  That is why people like the Perrettis invested in New Jersey real estate and played an important role in the preservation of farmland.  Now they are being chased from this state because of purse-money inequity. 

“In a time when jobs need to be saved, not scrapped, the powers-that-be in Trenton need to help us to help ourselves with nothing more than what neighboring states have provided their horse racing industries,” Luchento added.  “This is a valuable industry in this state for people who work the land and livestock.  Not everyone is meant to be a city or suburban dweller with a job, sitting behind a desk.  These are people who work with the horses in all weather, making a 24/7 commitment to the well-being of the horses in their care.  This is a way of life that is in jeopardy. 

“We know from polls and surveys that New Jersey citizens treasure their Green Acres and support the racing industry,” Luchento said.  “All we ask for is that the governor and the legislature take the necessary steps to protect our farms and tracks by bringing slots to the Meadowlands.  That in turn would reverse the exodus out of New Jersey and return such farms as Perretti’s to preeminence.”

 - Submitted by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ



By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

One of the new names on the program at this meeting is Evan Coblentz, who is making his first California invasion after spending the majority of his career in the Midwest.

The 53-year-old Ohio native got the harness bug at an early age and it’s been a passion ever since. “I was about 8 when my dad bought his first horse and they were racing at Lebanon and on the fairs. I knew right away it’s what I wanted to do and I was jogging them by the time I was 11 or 12.”

At 14, Evan was able to drive in matinee races and he was literally off to the races at that point, eventually competing at the fairs for real just two years later. One of his father’s two trainers was Chuck Peters, and Coblentz credits him with providing a valuable education in the sport.

“Chuck was about 15 years older than me and kind of like an older brother,” Evan explained. “He was a driver and a trainer and he taught me about the game from the ground up. I learned a lot from him.”

For the most part, Coblentz has raced on the Ohio fairs in the summer and then gone to Chicago for the winters, while making himself a Minnesota staple of late. He has been campaigning a string of good, hard-knocking trotters and pacers without any stars.

While he loves the racing and it has been career, he admits that his wife and two daughters were always his main focus. “Now that we’ve raised our daughters and they’re both married, my wife and I decided to come out here and try something new. It had always been in the back of our minds, and we plan on taking in all the sights.”

Evan has brought out seven performers, six of which carry his banner, and is very happy with the reception he’s received from management and fellow horsemen. “Everything has been great so far, especially the weather. Right now we’re just playing it by ear, but I have three young trotters that I might bring out after the start of the year.”

A reminder that Sunday, December 23, has been added to the live racing calendar here at Cal Expo and there will be a special first post of 2:35 p.m. for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday programs that week (December 21-23).


The opening legs of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series and the Bob Gordon Pacing series and the first round of $10,000 Sire Stakes action for the 2-year-old pacing males are the featured attractions at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo on Saturday evening.

Bob Gordon trained many of the best trotters and pacers to ever compete in the Golden State and was a staunch spokesman for the horsemen throughout his career, while the Dr. Gary Budahn is named for the veterinarian/owner/breeder/driver who like Mr. Gordon was so important to California harness racing on the racetrack and behind the scenes. 

There are two divisions of first leg of the Gordon series, set as the 3rd and 12th events on a 16-race program that gets underway at 5:30 p.m., while the Budahn series has one division with a full field of 10 facing off in the 6th race on the card. The Sire Stakes will go as a non-betting affair prior to the regular program.

The strong program also features an excellent conditioned pacing contest that finds Pancetta looking to remain unbeaten at the meeting for trainer Liberio Pacheco and driver Luke Plano, while some classy trotters will do battle in an optional/claiming trot that has lured the likes of Franky Provolone, Alpine Hawk and Claudius Augustus.

The Vickie Desomer barn is strongly represented in the first stakes clash for the 2-year-old pacing males with the team of Bit Player and Daring Do in the line-up. They are coming off a solid one-two finish last weekend with Steve Wiseman and Scott Cisco reprising their respective roles in the sulky for this get-together.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


He doesn’t get much national attention but Billy “Zeke” Parker Jr. is one of the best harness drivers of all time. And his record speaks for itself!

On  the muddy afternoon of  November 28,  Zeke  reined six winners on the Monticello Raceway card and  with those victories  his career win total is now at 10,855; seventh best all-time in North America.

Parker began the day reeling off winners in the first three races on the card. He won the first with B J Pacificia ($4.30) in 2:01.1 and then copped the second behind Twincreeks Jazz($3.70) in 2:03.3 and the third with Heavenspearlygates ($7.50)in 2:02.4.

After getting beat at the wire in race four with Famous Dude  Zeke then won the eighth race with trotter Chrome Finish ($4.40) in 2:02. But Zeke wasn’t done yet.

He copped the 11th with Pictonians Souwest in 2:01.4 and win number six that day came behind  Four Starz Pop Pop ($5.00)   in 2:00.2.

Zeke didn’t begin the 2012 racing season at the Mighty M until early March after he recuperated from  prostate cancer surgery and at that point he spotted  leader Jimmy Marohn, Jr.  almost 70 wins but with his constant  victories and a flurry of wins in the past three weeks  amazingly Parker is now just four wins behind (237-233)the talented  son of veteran driver Jimmy Marohn.

“I(’ve) even surprised myself that I have drawn this close.Starting so late and so far behind I never thought I’d be in a position with a  chance to win another (driving) title especially against Jimmy Junior, who  certainly knows his way around the racetrack,” Parker said. “Winning titles is great but it’s   not as important to me  now as it was when I was younger. Still thrilling to be the leader.”

Parker has won 18 driving crowns at Monticello Raceway and has been leading driver  at many other  racetracks in the northeast where he’s competed on a regular basis, including Yonkers Raceway, Foxboro Raceway, Scarborough Downs among  others.

“He (Parker)  gets no respect,  especially for a driver who has won over 10,000 races in his career,”  chirps longtime Monticello Raceway program director, John Flynn. “ Zeke can drive with the best of them and even now at the ripe old age of 59 he’s not slowing down. He’s an amazing driver, and always has been.”

M1 - Meadowlands Hires Private Investigator for the Integrity of Racing

The Meadowlands Racetrack has been proud to be home to the world’s greatest harness racing since its founding. In addition, the racetrack takes pride in providing a racing product that is driven by integrity. In the 2013 Racing Season, the Meadowlands Racetrack will take another booming step in providing that integrity driven product.
The Meadowlands Racetrack is proud to announce the hiring of a private investigator who will be focused on the integrity of racing at the New Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

Chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, Jeff Gural, shared the following, “It has always been one of my top priorities to provide a racing product whose integrity the betting public can be proud of. I feel that this step is a significant one in achieving that goal at The Meadowlands Racetrack as well as Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. I look forward to working with our field investigator to support the world class, integrity driven racing product the betting public wants and deserves.”
Gural continued, “Our goal is to provide an integrity driven racing product at the three tracks as we continue to ensure the health and welfare of our equine athletes both on and off the track. I am personally disappointed that so far we have not been able to come up with a program where a small portion of slots money is used for testing and marketing purposes, so I will make this important first step as for me anything less than a level playing field is unacceptable. Anyone who feels as I do and who would interested in sharing the cost of this new integrity program at the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, should contact Jason M. Settlemoir at”

An important aspect of the new field investigators duties are outlined in Section 27 of the 2013 Meadowlands Racetrack Racing Application. Upon applying for participation to race at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs during the 2013 meet, horsemen and trainers must grant unfettered access to Meadowlands Racetrack officers, agents or representatives, to their ship-in stalls, training facilities, etc., as discussed in Section 27 of the application.

It reads as follows:

27. In consideration of the Meadowlands granting me the privilege of racing at Meadowlands Racetrack, I hereby appoint the Meadowlands Racetrack, its officers, agents or representatives as my agent for the limited purpose and authority to enter, without prior notice, the ship in stalls at Meadowlands Racetrack and/or any other premises, either in-state or out-of-state, including but not limited to any off-track stabling facilities, farms, training centers or other racetrack facilities, for the purpose of checking on the wellbeing and health of any racehorse listed on this application or entered in any upcoming Meadowlands race by me as trainer. Checking on the wellbeing and health of any such racehorse shall include but not be limited to the taking of blood or urine or other testing procedures by the Meadowlands officer, agent or representative.  By acknowledgement of this limited agency given by me to the Meadowlands officers, agents or representatives, I acknowledge and agree that the Meadowlands officer, agent or representative is my agent or guest or invitee and is permitted to enter any of the above mentioned premises as my agent, guest or invitee. Additionally, I agree to produce at my own cost and within 24 hours of a request by the Meadowlands officer, agent or representative, any horse listed on this application or any horse which is entered in any Meadowlands race which is under my custody and control and which I am listed as trainer of record, for the purpose of blood, urine or other testing procedures at a designated location at Meadowlands Racetrack or other location designated by the Meadowlands. In Meadowlands sole discretion and for good cause shown, this time frame can be extended at my written request. In the event of non-cooperation and failure to adhere to these conditions, I am subject to the loss of privileges to enter horses at Meadowlands Racetrack. By signing this application, I further acknowledge and agree that the grant of racing privileges at the Meadowlands Racetrack is a privilege afforded me by Meadowlands Racetrack and is not a property right.


 By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness
This weekend at Cal Expo will see the opening legs of the Bob Staats and Bob Gordon Pacing series and the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series, named for three individuals who were extremely influential in California harness racing.

Upcoming events will honor the memory of owners Marvin Shapiro, Lonnie Beck, Richard Staley, Bill Conlin and Lloyd Arnold, while driver/trainers Joe O’Brien, Joe Lighthill, James Grundy, Shelly Goudreau and Jim Dennis will have series bearing their names. There is also an event named for longtime California steward Michael Corley and storied harness writer and historian Stan Bergstein.

The Bob Staats Pacing series, which gets underway Friday evening, is named for the prominent owner/breeder who passed away last year at the age of 69. Along with his wife Loretta, Mr. Staats was active in the sport beginning in the early 1970s, with Bob Gordon handling the trainer duties. Upon his passing Rick Plano and Bob Johnson conditioned most of his performers.

Among those outstanding Staats colorbearers were Stand By N, the brilliant New Zealand-bred racemare and producer; her son Moxie, a 1:49 3/5 pacer with more than $400,000 in earnings; Nemisis, a 1:48 victor; the popular mare Reno Rose; Bells To Be Rung and the stakes-winning BG’s Prodigy, who was named after trainer Gordon.

Stand By was the horse that put the Staats stable on the map and was his all-time favorite. The New Zealand import had a 1:52 career standard and banked $250,000 in a brilliant career on the racetrack, then went on to be an equally outstanding broodmare. She was inducted into the California Harness Hall of Fame in 2010.

“Bob Staats was one of the top owners and breeders we’ve had in the sport, and was very important to California harness racing,” said racing secretary Fred Kuebler. “He was one of the first owners to bring horses over from New Zealand and Stand By was a wonderful racemare and producer. He had a great partnership with Bob Gordon that produced some outstanding racehorses over the years.”

Speaking of Gordon, he will be honored with the Bob Gordon Pacing series that is set to begin on Saturday. That program will also feature the first leg of the Dr. Gary Budahn Trotting series, named for the veterinarian/owner/breeder/driver who like Mr. Gordon and Mr. Staats was so important to California harness racing on the racetrack and behind the scenes. 

A reminder that Sunday, December 23, has been added to the live racing calendar here at Cal Expo and there will be a special first post of 2:35 p.m. for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday programs that week (December 21-23).


The opening leg of the Bob Staats Pacing series for fillies and mares and the initial round of $10,000 Sire Stakes contests for the 2-year-olds get the marquee treatment at Cal Expo Friday night.
                                                                                                                                                The Bob Staats will go as the third race on the 16-race program that kicks off at 5:30 p.m. There will be two Sire Stakes decided as non-betting races prior to the regular program, with one for filly pacers and the others combining filly and colt trotters.
A field of seven distaffers will do battle in the first leg of the Staats and trainer Bob Johnson sends out three solid contenders in Don’t Hurry Love, who will have the services of Mooney Svendsen; Twentyone Guns with Scott Cisco at the controls and Delightful Shark, who leaves from the outside slot with Bruce Clarke guiding.

The Tim Maier barn will be represented by Little Anna Mae with her conditioner in the sulky and Rd Iou for Steve Wiseman. Completing the cast are the Dario Solares-trained Drawing Dead with Williams Hernandez and La Madawna De Rosa, who takes her lessons from Robert Bell and has Luke Plano giving direction.
Johnson should also have a strong say in the Sire Stakes for the trotting set with recent winner It’s Not Over and Svendsen joining forces once again, while Stiletosilverheels should be among the major players in the big-money clash for the pacing fillies for owner/breeder Dawn Evango, trainer Kennedy Lindsey and pilot Chip Lackey.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


During the month of December there will be several changes in the live racing schedule at Monticello Raceway.

The schedule during the first two weeks in December remains the same as always with live harness action on the afternoons of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
On Sunday December 16 there will be a special live afternoon race card to coincide with the Horsemen’s Holiday Party. After December 16 racing will continue on every weekday afternoon   including Friday December 21.

There will be no racing Monday, December 24 or Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25.
The final three programs of the year will be on Wednesday December 26, Thursday, December 27 and on Monday, December 31.

All post times in December will continue with 12:25pm post times.
Two special races will be presented during December. On Wednesday, December 19 the Monticello Marathon will again be offered for trotters racing at a 1-3/4 distance. Then slated  on Thursday, December 27  is the “Au Revoir”, the race for 14 year olds only making their last starts of their careers..


The six week two track trotting series, sponsored by the North American Amateur Drivers Association, will culminate Thursday Night, November 29 in a $12,000 finale at Yonkers Raceway.

The drivers  who’ll  be competing  were the leading point-earners s during the five preliminary legs and of them the only  Bob Krivelin  won more than one preliminary event.
Krivelin will drive the same trotter, High Pan Tolerance, who carried him home in front of his competitors in triumphs at both Monticello Raceway and Yonkers Raceway. High Pan Tolerance‘s best win time in the series was a 2:00.3 clocking at Monticello Raceway on October 18. The trotter , who’ll start from  the four-hole , comes into the NAADA  final off a 1:57.3 victory last week at Yonkers  with Larry Stalbaum at the controls.

I’m Fabulous, a winner of the last NAADA preliminary at  Yonkers on November 15 in 1:59.3  for Mike Weiner will have the two-hole and a new pilot in the series final in the presence of Alan Schwartz, who finished second in points behind Krivelin.
Third best in series points was Bob Hechkoff who won a NAADA leg at Yonkers Raceway on November 8 with CD’s Eldorado. However,  in the series  finale he’ll  jump back up behind  his veteran trotter Tremendous Hit and leave from post position five.

Other amateurs who qualified to compete in the NAADA Final along with the trotters they’ll drive  include: Gary Campbell (#1-The Windsurfer A); Joe Faraldo (#3-Carpthian Hooray); Dave Yarock (#6-Twocarlane) and George Newell, Jr. (#7-Winterleebrook).
Being raced as a non-wagering event, the seven-horse trot is slated to go to post at 6:00pm on Thursday.

According to NAADA  president Joe Faraldo ,a short time after the completion of the trotting series the North American Amateur Drivers Association will again make a  donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Society.  


Monticello Raceway’s Heritage Drivers Series began on January 17 with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pace, for drivers of African-American heritage, and continued throughout the year with a race for seven other ethnic groups and culminated with the Maple Leaf Mile,  for drivers of Canadian descent  on October 23. Now on Thursday, November 29  the winning drivers  of each of the preliminary legs in the Heritage Drivers Series will return to battle in the final event dubbed the All-America Cup.

In what appears to be the most competitive of all the Heritage Drivers Series races the eight winning drivers  in the  preliminaries are set to battle.
The field for that event has been drawn and drivers were assigned to their pacers by a lottery drawing.

“On paper this is the most competitive  of all the Heritage Drivers Series races this year with nearly any of the eight pacers having  a chance to  win,”  noted Eric Warner,  the track’s Director of Racing. “Many of the competing drivers are among the tracks leaders so  it’s anybody’s ball game .”
Of the eight starting pacers their combined seasonal win total is 44 with  Doug’s Boy and Gin And Vermouth chiming in with 10 wins each.

Strangely, one of the aforementioned 10-time winners, Gin And Vermouth, is the favorite in the race and the other, Doug’s Boy, a 10-1 shot.
Jimmy Devaux, winner of the Maple Leaf Mile, will handle Gin And Vermouth  from post five while Alan Charles, winner of the Passover Trot, will be up behind Doug’s Boy , a 1:59 winner in his last start, who’ll leave from the  seven-hole.. However, both pacers have won in 1:56 and a piece this year.

Jimmy Taggart, Jr., winner of the St Paddy Pace, has drawn 7-2 rated EHI Guaglione, a winner of six races the fastest this season a 1:57.4 effort on Oct. 9. Also with merit is Super Killean, a 1:58.3 winner in his last start who’ll be handled by Bobby Williams, Jr., who won the  Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Pace. The former will start from the pole position while the latter will leave from  the three-hole.
Other drivers  in the event  include Lisa Krom (Lady Godiva) with High Point (5-1) from post two; Mike Forte (Godfather Pace) with Amazda (6-1)from the  four-hole; Zeke Parker ( Mayflower Mile) with Sues Destroyer (8-1) from post six  and Mike Merton (Munich Mile) with Foomanchu (12-1)from the eight hole.

“This is a solid field and a great betting race,” track announcer Howard Oil said after he  looked over the  official program. “There’ll definitely be some good value in this race.”
After the third race on Thursday’s card one ethnicity will have earned bragging rights on the strength of their representative driver’s victory in the All-America Cup. 

First post is at 12.25pm.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 27, 2012--Yonkers Raceway has cancelled live racing and evening simulcasting for tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 27), due to inclement weather in the greater New York area.
Live racing (and evening simulcasting) is scheduled to resume Thursday night (Nov. 29), with the usual 7:10 PM first post. 
Afternoon simulcasting is scheduled to resume Wednesday, with the beginning the Aqueduct race week.
Horsemen are advised that the regular draw for Saturday (Dec. 1) is taking place, with the entry box closing at 4 PM.


For the third consecutive season the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association and Monticello Casino & Raceway will host a Fabulous, Fantasy Holiday Party from 1pm until 5pm for local children ages toddler to 12 years on Sunday afternoon, December 16. The party will be run in conjunction with the racing program that afternoon. Post time for the race card will be at 12:25pm.

Monticello Raceway horsemen will be taking the attending children on a magical make believe  journey to the North Pole where they will visit with, and have photos taken, with Santa and his Elves in Snowy Candy Cane Land.

The party will be centered on the third floor of the grandstand in the Casino where various other activities are planned for the children.

“This year we will be bigger and better than ever and there will be something for each and every child,” noted Alan Schwartz the president of the Horsemen’s Association. “We have plenty of gifts; bicycles of all kinds, games, toys, stuffed animals,  and even remote controlled cars.”

There will  games to play and the youngsters can have their faces made- up by a professional face painter. And Elvis will be in the building!  Eric “Elvis’ Lost Brother” Bressi will entertain, completely gratis.

“We have heard from good sources that “Santa” might make an appearance as the Good Will Ambassador for the Candy Cane Pace, the special holiday race featured  on the racing program that afternoon,” added Mrs. Dale Berenson, the executive secretary of administration for the Horsemen’s Association. “And once again, all children will receive a candy cane after the Candy Cane Pace is completed.”

Attendance to the Holiday Party is FREE and it promises to be a day the kids will remember. Sweet treats, cookies and hot chocolate will also be given to all the attending children courtesy of Monticello Raceway….. and, of course, Santa.


Monticello Raceway’s Au Revoir, for 14-year-olds only, has always been is the last race of their careers.

This year the Au Revoir, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, December 27th , has a decent chance of filling which has not always been the case over the past few decades..
According to Eric Warner, the tracks director of racing, he has heard from four owners of the old-timers who would like their pacers to race in the career- ending event.

“I’ve received correspondence from Gene  Miller, Kathy Merola, Francis Witkowski and  Lisa Pratt, all extremely interested in racing in our Au Revoir which brings us closer to  having a race again  year,” Warner said. “Of course we’d like a full field but if we get six 14 year old pacers we’ll go with it (on the betting card).”
The inaugural Au Revoir  went to post in 1991 and each year since  the Mighty M has tried to fill the 14 year old race but was not always  successful.  The hard part is, and always has been, being able to find enough  old-timers who are still racing this late in season.

Over the years only five Au Revoir’s were contested  and one year (2004) a special 14 year old match  race—with pari-mutuel wagering -- was presented instead, which was an extremely exciting race .
“If we went with this race earlier in the year the chances of filling would be much greater but it would probably not be the last race for all the entrants,” Warner added. After all, Au Revoir, for all intents and purposes, means goodbye (in French), and after our event is completed  sadly all the competing horses will have to say goodbye to racing.”

Anyone with a 14 year old standardbred who’d like to have their horse race one final time before it becomes ineligible can contact Warner in the racing office by calling  845-794-4100ext.557;  or they can  contact the track’s publicity office at ext. 455.

Monday, November 26, 2012


MANALAPAN, NJ – November 26, 2012 – The Standardbred Breeders & Owners Association of New Jersey reached an agreement today [November 26, 2012] with Freehold Raceway to conduct a 110-date meet in 2013.

The calendar, which will be finalized and released soon, includes racing in the months of January and February.

Initially, Freehold had requested only 90 dates and the track’s proposed calendar did not include winter racing.  The SBOANJ contested both the total number of dates and the lack of racing in January and February.

The amended Freehold dates are subject to approval by the New Jersey Racing Commission at its November 28 meeting in Trenton.

--Submitted by Carol Hodes for SBOANJ



Chairman of American Racing and Entertainment Jeff Gural, Tioga Downs Casino, and Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel are pleased to announce that they are donating $200,000 to the American Red Cross in aid of victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York City.

Between Sunday, November 11 and Sunday, November 18, patrons who donated $5 Sunday through Thursday, and those who donated $10 on Friday and Saturday, received a free buffet in Tioga Downs’ County Fair Buffet. Patrons were also encouraged to donate additional funds above $5 and $10, with the total amount generously matched by Jeff Gural.

Through these means, as well as with donations from employees, Tioga Downs donated $31,000 and Vernon Downs amassed a total of $28,000. These amounts, with the help of Jeff Gural’s matching and personal donations, met the combined donation goal of $200,000.

According to Mr. Gural, “Our areas know what it’s like to deal with the aftermath of a flood, which is evident by the generosity of our patrons in showing their support for Hurricane Sandy victims.”

In addition, Meadowlands Racetrack and Gural are donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross to assist with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New Jersey.

M1 - Zoccali Named Meadowlands Racetrack Director of Racing Operations

The Meadowlands Racetrack is pleased to announce that the position of Director of Racing Operations will be filled by Darin Zoccali, effective November 30, 2012.  Zoccali, 29, a native of Staten Island, New York is a graduate of St. John’s University.  He later attended Pace Law School in White Plains, New York.  He has been around horse racing, and particularly the Meadowlands his entire life, attending the races with his father from when he was a small child.  After law school, Zoccali decided to pursue a career in his true passion, horse racing.

Darin Zoccali
In 2006, Zoccali began filling in as a co-host on the Meadowlands in-house and nightly recap television show, while working as a news correspondent for the United States Trotting Association.  The following year he realized a dream, gaining the opportunity to call races at both Tioga Downs and Ocean Downs.  In the years that followed Zoccali became a regular contributor to “Down the Stretch” on SiriusXM radio while seeing his role at the Meadowlands continuing to grow in guest services, marketing and television.  Later he would become the associate announcer at Parx Racing (formerly Philadelphia Park) and one of the feature writers for Harness Racing Update.  In January 2012 he took on the role of morning line odds maker and track handicapper at the Meadowlands.

In a twist of fate, Zoccali now finds himself working alongside one of the first people to give him an opportunity in the industry, Jason Settlemoir.  “Having worked with Darin for the last six years at Tioga Downs, I’ve come to learn that his passion for the sport of harness racing is only surpassed by his work ethic,” said Settlemoir.  “He brings many things to the table and at a young age has already contributed to the sport in many different ways.  He excels in studying numbers and figures, breaking them down and forming ideas based on what he has learned.  I am excited to set forth on this new journey with Darin filling this role.  He brings energy and enthusiasm to a position that warrants a great deal of both.  We are getting set to launch a new era at the Meadowlands with the opening of a brand new facility and I am very pleased to have Darin as a part of this team.”

Zoccali is overwhelmed by the opportunity.  “I was ecstatic when I was asked to become the odds maker and track handicapper last year,” said Zoccali.  “I told my wife, there is one person in the world that gets to do that and to think that’s me, I was speechless.  But now this gives that concept a whole new meaning.  I have learned many things since I started working in this business.  One of those things was there is no better team than Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir.  I’m just happy to be a part of this team, where I will continue to learn from them and will do everything I can to contribute to this racetrack that has meant so much to me, my entire life.  This is not just a job and this is not just a racetrack to me.  It continues to be a huge part of my life.”

In addition to his role as Director of Racing Operations, Zoccali will continue as the morning line odds maker and track handicapper.  He will continue to appear on the Meadowlands television broadcasts and will remain the Meadowlands correspondent to TVG, appearing each race night on “Drive Time.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 24, 2012--Odds-on favorite Sapphire City (Brent Holland) lasted on a windy lead Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $35,000 Open Handicap Pace.

Assigned post position No. 4, Sapphire City eschewed an early seat behind Eighteen (Mark MacDonald), instead making the lead before a :26.4 quarter-mile.

From there, it was a :56.1 intermission before eight-hole ordered Great Vintage (George Brennan)--who tucked in fifth--was on the prowl. He engaged the leader through a :27.3 third quarter (1:23.4) before giving way.

Sapphire City was then able to steal a couple of lengths in and out of the final turn, and he'd need 'em. Eighteen closed ranks in the pocket, while the invading millionaire Annieswesterncard (Yannick Gingras) moved from second-over.

However, it was all-age track record holder Sapphire City finishing what he started, prevailing by a diminishing half-length in 1:52.1. "Annie" snatched second over Eighteen, with Hypnotist (Larry Stalbaum) and Mainland Key N (Eric Goodell) settling for the small change.

For Sapphire City, a 4-year-old Metropolitan gelding trained by Paul Blumenfeld for co-owners Centaur Stable and Jordan Sklut, he returned $3.20 for his 10th win in 36 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $11.40, with the triple returning $102.

Saturday props also to the 13-year-old gelding Forest Vic A (Steve Smith), who closed from last to win the $24,000, 11th-race pace (1:55.2) at a healthy $93.50 mutuel. It was "Vic's" 47th career vic-tory.    

The Raceway continues its normal five-night-per-week live schedule, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 23, 2012--Yonkers Raceway's pair of Friday night, $35,000 co-featured Open Handicaps--for distaff pacers and trotters of all ranks and files--were won by a down-the-road Keeper's Destiny (George Brennan, $6.10) and a pocket-sitting Looking Hanover (Brian Sears, $4).

In play from what became penultimate post position No. 6 (the results of an eight-hole defection), Keeper's Destiny made the lead around Quicksilvercandy A (Larry Stalbaum) before a :27.1 opening quarter-mile.

From there, a :56.4 intermission before even-money favorite Krispy Apple (Sears)--who had wedged into an early five-hole--was out and moving. She turned up the volume in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters, but Krispy Apple was not in a giving mood.

She rebuffed the people's choice from that point, winning a match race through the lane by a neck in 1:53.2. Third went to a closing Don't Blame Her (Joe Bongiorno), with Quicksilvercandy A and Argument Hanover (Jason Bartlett) picking at the post-holiday leftovers.   

For second choice Keeper's Destiny, a 6-year-old daughter of Intrepid Seelster owned by Merlin Howse and trained by Casie Coleman (also the co-breeders), it was her eighth win in 27 seasonal starts (career cash now over $513,000. The exacta paid $14, with the triple returning $38.

The week's featured trot saw Aisling (Brennan) two-move to the lead and throw down seemingly-comfy intervals of :28.3, :57.3 and 1:26.3. Looking Hanover was perched in the two-hole from post No. 5, while Mystical Starlight tried it first-up from sixth.

Entering the lane, Aisling had a length-and-a-half lead, but could not close the sale. Looking Hanover ducked in and prevailed, winning by a half-length in 1:56.

It was heater for second between a tiring Aisling and a cone-skimming, 32-1 rank outsider Rookie Mistake (Cat Manzi), with Mystical Starlight and Celebrity Bluechip (Bartlett) grabbing the remainder. 

For favored Looking Hanover, a 7-year-old Muscles Yankee gelding trained by Edwin Gannon Jr. for co-owners Dawn Marie Gannon and Yannick Gingras, it was his third win in 21 '12 starts. The exactas paid $29 (Rookie Mistake second) and $8.40 (Aisling second), the triples returned $117.50 ("Rookie' second, Aisling third) and $76.50 (Aisling second, "Rookie" third) and the superfectas paid $638 and $348 (again, with Rookie Mistake second and Aisling third). 

The Raceway continues its normal five-night-per-week live schedule, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.

Friday, November 23, 2012


By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Amanda Fraser will send out a pair of pacers in Saturday’s Survivor 1 finale at Cal Expo and while Hell N Damnation and Fairway Gypsy don’t figure to be early factors, they should be making their presence felt when push comes to shove.

Both pacers are owned by Fraser and Scott Cisco, with Cisco guiding Hell N Damnation and Mooney Svendsen handling Fairway Gypsy. The latter was fourth in his division of the second leg of the series, while Hell N Damnation looped his rivals to win the other division going away in a very impressive mile.

“We’ve had Hell N Damnation for three years and he’s a nice one,” Cisco related. “When we first got him, he always came from well back, but he’s a little more versatile now even though he still does his best from off the pace. Opening week he didn’t have the best cover and it didn’t take us that far, then last time he was loaded.”
                                                                                                                                                     In that November 10 mile, the 8-year-old found himself in last and third-over by the half, exploded four wide off the final bend and won going away by two lengths. “He can handle any kind of track, and as far as the missed week because of the cancellation, everybody is in the same boat,” Scott said.
                                                                                                                                      Fairway Gypsy was the victim of an early break in the opening leg of the Survivor, then was fanned wide turning for home in his last engagement and finished with interest to be beaten only two lengths by Asgoodasioncewas. “He hit a divot in that first start, which is why he made the break, and he had poor cover and a wide trip in that last one.
                                                                                                                                                “If they got a fast pace out there, which is usually the case when there is some kind of a final, it would help both these horses. Hopefully, they’ll be coming strong at the end and a one-two finish would be great.”


Please note that Sunday, December 23, has been added to the live racing calendar here at Cal Expo and there will be a special first post of 2:35 p.m. for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday programs that week (December 21-23).



                                                                                                                                       The Survivor 1 and Survivor 2 finales, which were delayed one week; the first round of fall Sire Stakes action for the 3-year-old trotting and pacing males; and the Richard Fowler Memorial Pace will be featured on Saturday night’s Watch and Wager LLC program at Cal Expo. First post for the 16-race program is 5:30 p.m.

Both Survivor finals feature full fields of 10 with an $8,800 purse. Take No Prisoners and L S Orchardwinner looked strong getting the job done in their divisions of last week’s second leg of the Survivor 2, while four different pacers prevailed in the two legs of the Survivor 1 and that event looks wide open.

L S Orchardwinner races for Juan Pacheco, trainer Lester Smith and driver Chip Lackey and has left little doubt in his wins in the opening legs. He played the role of stalker in the first score, then immediately took matters into his owns hands last week and cruised home in coast-to-coast fashion by nine lengths.

Take No Prisoners has likewise proved clearly best in his two divisions of the opening legs with David Siegel guiding him on opening week and James Kennedy doing the honors last time for trainer Raul Escobedo. He lands the cozy rail for this assignment while L S Orchidwinner will do his work from the No. 8 slot.

You can make a strong case for many of the pacers in the Survivor 1 final, but Gene Vallandingham has them in the numbers department with four of his charges in the line-up, including last week’s upsetter Asgoodasioncewas with his owner/trainer handling the lines. The other Vallandingham trainees are Blissful Winds, to be guided by Paul Welence; Village Benjamin with Steve Wiseman; and Schemes, who has Tim Maier in the sulky.

Ra Ra Steven hails from the Junior Wilkinson barn and gets top billing in the Sire Stakes for the pacing colts, while Rite After Disbeer for Kennedy Lindsey and the Marco Rios-trained El Azteca boost several trophies in the trotting event and should be major players once again. The stakes races will go as non-betting events prior to the regular program.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Mike Jarvis is enjoying his first venture to California, having already made quite a few winner’s circle appearances at Cal Expo in partnership with trainer George Anthrop.

“George has been trying to get me to drive for him for a couple of years and I decided to give it a try,” Jarvis explained. “So far everybody has been great and it’s nice to win some races.”

The 61-year-old native of Canada got the harness bug when he was just 11 years old in his native Collinswood. “There was a fairgrounds there and I started working for Clarence Lockhart cleaning out stalls for 50 cents an hour. He ended up teaching me about the game from the ground up.”

In addition to learning from Lockhart, who was renowned for his expertise with trotters, Jarvis also got a great education with Keith Waples, who took him to Blue Bonnets.“I drove my first race at Barre Raceway when I was 19 and won with a pacer named Problem Drinker. A few years later I got married and went out on my own.”
Mike captured a trio of driving titles and had one of his best years in 1987 when he had four of the best performers on the grounds. “There was Alle Milas, who was a Niatross, and Classy Superstar, who was by Bret Hanover. We did real well with both of them.”

Jarvis recorded the fastest victory of his career in 1991 when he guided Armbro Liqueur to a 1:50 flat victory in an Invitational at Woodbine. “I won quite a few races with him and eventually lost him in a $100,000 claimer.”
                                                                                                                                           The scariest moment in his career came five years ago in Ohio, when an accident left him with a broken collarbone, three broken ribs and two broken wrists. “It was pretty bad and I had to cut back a little after that.” Fast forward to the present and Mike is doing quite well in his initial invasion of the Golden State while looking forward to many more picture sessions.


Please note that Sunday, December 23, has been added to the live racing calendar here at Cal Expo and there will be a special first post of 2:35 p.m. for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday programs that week (December 21-23).


A $6,000 Open Trot and a pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing and trotting fillies will be decided at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting at Cal Expo Friday night.

A 16-race card is set with first post at an earlier 5:30 p.m. The Open Trot finds Shelby County gunning for a repeat victory at the head of the class and goes as the third on the evening, while the two Sire Stakes will be non-betting races held before the regular program.
                                                                                                                                         Shelby County is a 5-year-old daughter of Chip Chip Hooray and the Whiteland Somolli mare Rowdy Somolli who is gunning for her 15th win on the season from 32 trips to the post. She recently went over the $100,000 earnings plateau and established her 1:57 1/5 mark here earlier in the year.

After making a break in her first start at the meet three weeks ago, Shelby County was runner-up to Franky Provolone two back then put it all together in the most recent clash at the head of the class in coast-to-coast fashion for Stidham over a course that was rated good. Taking her on are Franky Provolone (Tim Maier), Giles L S Hanover (Steve Wiseman), Claudius Augustus (Mooney Svendsen) and Be Famous (Frank Petrelli).

Looking at the Sire Stakes for pacing distaffers, trainers Tim Maier and Bob Johnson will both have two looks at the outcome with Diva Las Vegas and Little Anna Mae suiting up for Maier with Pismo Beach and Twentyone Guns represent the Johnson barn. Drawing Dead and La Madawna De Rosa complete the cast. In the trotting event, Vari Forgetfull and Silverlode are both multiple stakes winners while California Crush will try for an upset.