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Sunday, March 31, 2013

M1 - Callahan Misses 3,000th Win By A Nose, Wins Four

+Corey Callahan was at it again, picking up four more wins on Saturday night at the Meadowlands.  In race 12, he came within a nose of a fifth win, which would have been career win number 3,000.
One of Callahan’s four wins came with Cane Ridge, who lived up to the favorite’s role in the $60,850 Rags To Riches final, reducing his lifetime record to a flat 1:50- in the process.

When the opportunity to race mid-level overnighters for a purse this large, the pace figures to be contested and that was surely the case here.

Callahan had hinted at his intentions during his "In The Sulky" interview before the card began and Cane Ridge sports an awful lot of "1's" in his past performance lines.

Cambassador, second choice in the wagering, presented driver John Campbell few options from post ten other than to blast out and take his medicine. The price was a steep one, as Cane Ridge was keen to go on and carried Cambassador through demanding consecutive 26.2 quarters before grudgingly surrendering the lead passing the half.

Callahan popped the favorite back out when the field caught up and the flow began to form and cleared back to the lead before the 1:21.2 third split. Though weary from the speed, Cane Ridge held off the close of Tamayo by the scantest of margins. Cambassador held bravely for third.
Trainer Doug Dilloian, Jr. was rightfully proud of the effort when interviewed post race. "He's been great throughout the series and he did it the right way tonight. I think he's earned at least one shot against conditioned types after this race."

Darius Oshidar owns the Cambest veteran who eclipsed his 2012 earnings with this, his fourth win in eight seasonal starts.
It was another big night at the betting windows at the Meadowlands, as the 13 race program easily eclipsed the 2012 handle figures and the $3 Million mark once again.  The $3,398,819 wagered on the Saturday program was an increase of 29 percent from the same Saturday a year ago.

*         Racing returns on Friday with the Night Styles series and post time at 7:15 P.M.




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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, March 30, 2013--Round 2 of Yonkers Raceway's George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series went postward Saturday night, comprised of five, $50,000, get-togethers.

The Easter Eve skinny...        

First division--A true Kodak moment, the camera could not divide 2-5 Rockincam (Eric Goodell), from post position No. 2, and Classic Rock Nroll (Brian Sears), from post No. 5, in 1:51.4 (intervals of :27.4, :56.1 and 1:24).

The latter edged from the pocket and "heated" the former, one night after Royal Cee Cee N and Warrawee Koine couldn't be separated in their division of the Matchmaker. Meant to be Me (Jordan Stratton) was third here, beaten three lengths.

For season-debuting Rockincam, a 6-year-old son of Camluck owned by Steven Farrell and trained by Nifty Norman, his career resume now includes 23 wins in 51 starts. The exacta with him first paid $6, with the triple (him first) returning $17.

For Classic Rock Nroll, a 6-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Tony O'Sullivan for owner Frank Bellino, it was his first win in two seasonal starts. The exacta with him first paid $16.40, with the triple (him first) returning $57.50.

Second division--The public couldn't enough of 2-5 Second Wind N (Tim Tetrick), but he couldn't get out of his own way after making the lead past the :28.2 quarter-mile. That left second choice Electrofire (Sears, $11), from post No. 5, leading and pole-sitting Forever Just (Jeff Gregory) chasing through remaining weigh stations of :57.4, 1:26 and 1:53.2.

Electrofire held sway, winning by three-quarters of a length. Flipper J (Jason Bartlett) was third.  Second Wind N recovered to race first-up, but faded and finished last among the seven.

Electrofire, a 6-year-old son of Electric Stena co-owned by Ross Warriner & Dave Miller and trained by Andrew Harris, is now 3-for-9 this season. The exacta paid $48,80, with the triple returning $155.50. 

Third division--As he did in the opening round, prohibitive fave Something for Doc (Yannick Gingras, $2.50) toyed with his foes. Leaving from post No. 4, he jaunted around the joint (:27.3; :56.3, 1:24.3, 1:51.4), matching the time of the first division dead-heat. The margin was a handy couple of lengths.

Listowel (Bartlett) skimmed the cones to grab second at 29-1, picking off tiring pocket-sitter Our Cullenscrown N (Tetrick). E Z Noah (Sears) was fourth.

"Doc," a 5-year-old Western Hanover gelding trained by Burke for co-owners himself (as Burke Racing), Weaver Bruscemi and Strollin' Stables, has five wins in seven seasonal starts. The exacta paid $32.40, the triple returned $82.50 and the superfecta paid $170.50.

Fourth division--Second choice Annie'swesterncard (Gingras) had to wait his turn before making the lead (27-second opening quarter) from post No. 7, found a :55.2 intermission, then saw Bet on the Law (Goodell) challenge through the 1:23.4 three-quarters.

Bet on the Law eventually broke, and Annie'swesterncard was safe, three-quarter length winner in 1:51.3. That mile makes him the leader in the clubhouse for fastest local mile of the season. Second went to Shoobee's Place (George Brennan), who, sitting a three-hole, went by Dancin' Yankee (Bartlett).

Versado (Sears), the 9-5 choice, wound up fourth after a tough eight-hole excursion.

"Annie," a 7-year-old Western Hanover gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by trainer Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, M1 and Panhellenic Stables, has won four of his seven seasonal starts (three consecutive). The exacta paid $53, with the triple returning $181.

Fifth division--If you accept the premise that harness horses can wear gloves, than 3-5 fave Foiled Again (Gingras) and third choice Razzle Dazzle (Sears) dropped 'em.

After the latter whipped the former a week ago, they hooked up here. Foiled Again, looped early by Sapphire City (Brent Holland), took over before a :27.4 opening  quarter-mile.

Razzle Dazzle, after brief tuck fifth from his eight-hole, was on the move again. He and Foiled Again matched wits passing a :54.4 half and 1:23.1 three-quarters, with Razzle Dazzle eventually taking over. However, a second move by 20-1 Sapphire City vaulted him to the lead turning for home.

Then came the closers. Code Word (Brennan) and Casimir Jitterbug (Goodell) went by everyone, with fourth choice "Jitterbug" ($26) winning by a head in 1:52.2. Foiled Again did re-rally to finish third—beaten two lengths--with Yo Cheyenne Rocky (Dan Dube) fourth. Razzle Dazzle faded to seventh.

Casimir Jitterbug, a 6-year-old Sir Luck gelding trained by O'Sullivan for owner Bellino, has won four of his seven '13 tries. The exacta paid $92.50, the triple returned $243 and the superfecta paid $1,872.

The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, 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, March 30, 2013

M1 - Callahan Riding The Meadowlands Express

You can’t stop Corey Callahan, you can only hope to contain him.  That has been the growing trend at the Meadowlands in recent weeks.  For several years, Callahan has seen his numbers climb, but it wasn’t until 2013 that he has become a force to be reckoned with on harness racing’s biggest stage.

Named the Driver of the Week last week, Callahan picked up right where he left off, winning four races to kick off his weekend.  Over the last three nights of racing at the Meadowlands, Callahan has 11 wins and has more wins in the last 4 weeks at the Meadowlands than any other driver.  He continues to lead the nation in both wins and earnings and it may get better for Callahan Saturday night, as he drives favored Cane Ridge in The Rags To Riches Final.

One of Callahan’s wins was the rising star, Ice Machine who parlayed a perfect Corey Callahan steer into his second consecutive win in the week's top trot at the Meadowlands.

Odds on favorite Sevruga made the lead just past the :27.4 quarter and was permitted to set uncontested fractions from there.  Callahan sat chilly with a handful of horse and tipped Ice Machine from the pocket as the field came through the final bend, flushed by a surging Harbor Point.

Sevruga dug in valiantly as Ice Machine wore the margin away methodically.  Harbor Point looked like he might be the strong horse when Pierce fanned him off the eventual winner's cover, but he rolled off onto the gallop when threatening.  Il Mago gathered the final board position.

Ice Machine prevailed over Sevruga by a neck in a career equaling 1:53-, returning a generous $15.40. Walt Carroll, Meadowlands reigning trainer of the week, conditions the winner for Robert Key's powerful stable.

On the wagering front, it was another night and another $3 million betting handle.  The $3,037,910 wagered on the Friday card marked a 26% increase from this same Friday in 2012.

Racing resumes with a big thirteen race program Saturday featuring The final of the Rags To Riches.  First post is 7:15 P.M.




Friday, March 29, 2013


BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Thursday, March 28, 2013--Her name may be spelled funny, but Fast and Fiesty is on a serious much so that she's the early choice for Yonkers Raceway's $59,400 final of the Petticoat Pacing Series.

The Petticoat, going as Monday night's (Apr. 1) eighth race, wraps the series for 3- and 4-year-old fillies and mares who were non winners of four races and/or $40,000 through last Dec. 1. Originally scheduled for three preliminary legs, one was lost to Mother Nature.

Fast and Fiesty, who drew post position No. 2 as the 8-5 morning-line favorite, won both of her series starts and four in a row overall. The 4-year-old daughter of Allamerican Native, driven by Brian Sears, is trained by Tom Fanning for owner Victor Apolinario. For the season, she's 5-for-7 with earnings of $31,500.

It wouldn't be a Yonkers Raceway series without requisite Ron Burke representation. The trainer sends out the joined-at-the-wagering-hip Cruise Queen (Matt Kakaley, post 3) and Apach of Luck (Dan Dube, post 8). The former, a 4-year-old daughter of Artiscape, had a win and a second in her series rounds, while Apach of Luck, a 4-year-old Camluck ma'am, matched Fast and Fiesty's 2-for-2 series resume.

Upfrontwhosurlady (Mark MacDonald, post 1), Sooo Windy (Jason Bartlett, post 6) and Lady's Art (Eric Goodell, post 7) each won a leg of the series.

Nightly Terror (Cat Manzi, post 4) and Uilleann (George Brennan, post 5) complete the octet.  

A $25,000 series consolation goes as the sixth race.

The $67,200 final of the Sagamore Hill Pacing Series, for 3- and 4-year-olds of the male persuasion, goes Tuesday night (Apr. 2).

HANA Harness Announces the 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge


(March 29 2013) – The Horseplayers Association of North America’s (HANA) harness racing division in association with the Hambletonian Society, Chicago Harness (Balmoral and Maywood Parks), The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs is pleased to announce “The 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge”.
The format of this year’s competition is a change from past Pen vs. Chip competitions as it doesn’t matter which type of handicapping method a handicapper uses as long as it is their own. In addition, instead of handicapping complete race cards, the contest focuses only on Grand Circuit races. Using the Grand Circuit schedule, excluding most elimination races, handicappers will be given $30 to wager as they will on race finals or in the case of races being contested in divisions, on one or more of the divisions. Each gambler must invest the full $30 or they will be penalized. The handicapper with the highest net profit after the last Grand Circuit race of the year will be the champion. The contest begins and concludes at Northfield Park; beginning on April 26 with the Courageous Lady and concluding on December 14 with the Cleveland Classic and includes 74 contest dates and 230 individual races. Rules and the Schedule of Races may be found at the contest website.
Another difference this year is the prize money, donations to standardbred rescues will not be winner takes-all. The sponsorship funds will be donated to standardbred rescues designated by our top three handicappers in a 50-35-15% breakdown, thus allowing more rescues to benefit. While additional sponsorship money may be forthcoming, $2,500 has already been pledged by our sponsors.
“HANA Harness is pleased to be presenting 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge this year.” said HANA President Jeff Platt, “We’ve decided to focus on the Grand Circuit races in an effort to support the revival of the Grand Circuit which features quality racing. I would also like to thank all our sponsors for providing sponsorship money which will help support standardbred rescues that are doing great work on behalf of our retired equine athletes”.
“We are pleased and excited that HANA has chosen to feature the retooled Grand Circuit as their contest races”, stated John Campbell, Grand Circuit President, “Hopefully the fans will enjoy following along with the races and the contest. We also want to thank the sponsors who allow this contest to support standardbred rescue”.
HANA would like to invite all harness horseplayers to the contest blog, which will analyze and discuss the upcoming races from a handicapping perspective. The blog will also offer handicapping information and selections from our handicappers, all successful horseplayers and when available, links to free past performances or handicapping information.
HANA Harness is the Harness Racing Division of the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA). HANA, established in 2008 has grown to over 2500 members. To join HANA Harness please visit this link: and sign up. It’s free!


Opening Night of racing is Friday, April 12

by Justin Horowitz, Regional Racing Marketing Manager

VERNON, NY – A celebration of the past with an eye towards bigger and better is the theme as Vernon Downs prepares for its historic 60th anniversary season. Live harness racing begins Friday, April 12. Post time has been moved 10 minutes earlier this season to 6:45 PM. The racing schedule features 90 race days on a mostly Thursday, Friday and Saturday schedule through November 2.

“This is going to be an exciting season to celebrate 60 years of harness racing tradition here at Vernon Downs,” said Director of Racing Scott Warren, “While creating some new memories along the way.”

Racing fans will notice many upgrades to the facilities this season including a renovated infield tote board, renovations to the Gold Cup dining room and a flashy new logo highlighting the 60th anniversary of racing (see attachment).

In an effort to celebrate some of those historic moments, this season’s program cover features several photos of legendary races and people from the past six decades. As part of a contest, fans that correctly identify the photos will be entered into weekly drawings for gift certificates from area businesses. They will also be entered into a grand prize drawing for $500 on June 29, the official 60th anniversary celebration. That special evening will also feature a commemorative T-Shirt giveaway and a trip giveaway to the Hambletonian, harness racing’s premier event.

On the track, a stakes schedule worth more than $2.3 million will ensure that many of the sport’s top horses will visit Vernon Downs in 2013.

“There aren’t too many tracks in North America that offer a better stakes schedule than Vernon Downs,” said Vice President of Racing Jason Settlemoir. “Central New York will witness first-hand harness racing’s very best horses, drivers and trainers.”

Fans will also want to circle Sunday, August 25 on their calendars. That special Sunday night of racing will feature the first round of the $50,000 Drivers’ Championship, harness racing’s version of the all-star game. The card will also include the $700,000 Zweig Memorial Trots. Hambletonian champion Market Share swept to a track record win in last year’s male division while super filly Check Me Out matched her own world record with a 1:51.3 win against her fellow females.

The End of Summer Showdown returns on September 6 with a pair of $200,000 races for older trotters, the Credit Winner for the boys and the Muscle Hill for the girls. One lucky fan will also drive home that night with a brand new car: Scion iQ in the grand prize drawing of the season-long Horseplay Car Giveaway. The promotion helps to raise nearly $10,000 for local charities.

Fans may also register each racing night for the 2nd annual Million Dollar Ball Drop, another season-long promotion that could award one lucky winner with $1 million on August 31.

Other special promotional nights include May 27 (Special Memorial Day matinee with baseball hat giveaway, while supplies last); June 21 (Camel and Ostrich races); July 13 (Miss Vernon Downs beauty pageant); August 8-10 (Corntastic Weekend); and August 25 (Drivers’ Championship bobblehead doll giveaway, while supplies last).

The Vernon Downs main track is being worked into mint condition by track superintendent Tony Rossi following another Central New York winter. Fans are invited to watch qualifying races on April 2 and 5 at 11:00 AM and April 9 at 6:45 PM.

A complete race and stakes calendar is available on theVernon Downs website and fans are encouraged to visit the track’s Facebook page for updated promotional information.

CalX1 - Friday Barn Notes


By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Rick Bertrand has a couple of dates circled on his calendar, including Saturday night with his 3-year-old pacer Winonefordoug and April 12 and 13, when he will be among the quartet representing the locals in the popular East-West Challenge.

Winonefordoug is fresh from earning his first career score last weekend, lighting up the board at $76 in the process for owner Douglas Flores and driver/trainer Bertrand. Rick is well aware that he’s in pretty deep Saturday night as he jumps back into Sire Stakes company, but feels the pacer deserves the chance.

“He’s a nice little horse with a good bloodline,” Bertrand related. “He has the potential to be a good one, but sometimes he doesn’t want to put in the effort. I made some changes last week that seemed to agree with him and he responded well. I don’t know if he’s a 1:56 pacer yet like those other stakes horses, but we put him back in with them and we’ll see how it goes.”

As for the East-West Challenge, this will be the sixth year in which Bertrand has helped represent the local squad. This time he will be joined by Karen Isbell, Sue Boyce and the driving force behind this annual event, Dave Siegel.

“I’ve enjoyed it every time,” Rick said. “In the past, I was able to compete with all the Eastern drivers when I was a member of the Billings. The Challenge is a really fun event and everybody wants to win and help their team. David does a great job putting this together every year and it’s good to see the guys from back East take time out of their schedules to come out for the event.”

This year’s Eastern team will consist of Dean Spriggs and Michele Ruvola, who are making return trips, and a pair of newcomers. They are George Bonomo and Bob Krivelin, the latter being named 2012 Amateur Driver of the Year.



A $10,000 California Sire Stakes for the 3-year-old pacing colts that brings together a well-matched field and a $6,000 Open Pace that finds One And Only seeking an encore hold the spotlight at Cal Expo on Saturday night.

Hi Ho Disguise is looking for his third straight trophy in the Sire Stakes for the pacing males. A 3-year-old homebred son of Hi Ho Silverheel’s from the Jenna’s Beach Boy mare Jenna’s Disguise, he carries the banner of James Mascola, Dan Tullio and Matias Ruiz with Ruiz training and Luke Plano in the sulky.

In the March 2 clash, he sat a pocket trip, ignited when the question was asked and was up by a neck over Bit Player. In the most recent get-together for this group two weeks ago, Hi Ho Disguise did his work in game, first-over fashion and prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a lifetime-best 1:56 clocking.

Bit Player was posing for snapshots following the first Sire Stakes of the season on March 16 and has been second and fourth in the last pair. The Desomer Stables homebred is conditioned by Vickie Desomer with Steve Wiseman at the helm and sports a 1:56 3/5 standard.

Taking on this pair are Bit Player’s barnmate Daring Do with Steve Desomer at the controls; Me Tarzan, to be handled by Tim Maier; Lebo Jones with Scott Cisco; Winonefordoug for Rick Bertrand; and Kablooie, to be guided by Bruce Clarke.

In the Open Pace, One And Only will be looking for a repeat score after posting a $46 upset in last week’s dance at the head of the class with James Kenned in the sulky. It was the third win on the year in eight appearances for the hard-hitting performer.

 In that event, he was up in the final strides over P H Jackpot and Military Stratcom, who have both left for Eastern campaigns. The son of Bettor’s Delight races for Richard Morita and David Yamada with Lino Pacheco training and Luke Plano will take over the driving duties with Kennedy guiding his own trainee Haggin Oaks for this go-around.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Arguably the biggest fan favorite of Monticello Raceway’s Heritage Drivers Series ethnic races is “the Race for the Matzos” better known as the Passover Pace, which features the talents of drivers of Jewish heritage. 

Besides the usual array of media coverage the race garners, over years it has also received exposure in various  Jewish tabloids like the Jewish Week and the Jewish Times, to name a few.
The 15th edition of the Passover Pace will go to post on Monday, April 1 with eight drivers all raring to go at it  again, especially Alan Charles. Not only is Charles the defending champion but he has won the Race For The Matzos two times in the last three years.

“It’ll be extra tough to win it again this year because I have one of the longest shots on the morning line,” said Charles, who’ll be handling 8-1 rated Fulla Love from post position seven. “But I’ve won the Passover Pace with outsiders before.”
Just last year when the race was a trot instead of a pace Charles won the event with Digital Photo who paid $24.60 for win.  And when Charles won the 2010 Passover Pace with Cody Little Gal the win payoff  was $16.80.

According to track odds-maker, John Flynn, Isn’t She Lovely, from the pole position, rates as the 5-2 early favorite. Last year’s National Amateur Driver of the Year and 2010 Passover Pace winner, Bobby Krivelin, will handle the mare who had 10 wins last season but has yet to reach the winners circle this year.
“Not one of these pacers in this Passover Pace has won a race this year,” Krivelin said. “I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing, either.“They’re all equal in that way and maybe it’ll make for a more competitive race. I’m just glad I’ll be starting from the pole.”

Three-time Passover Pace winner Alan Schwartz can’t be dismissed when he jumps up behind Shezaflamintower .
“Don’t count me out as long as the race track is dry,” he said. “I’ve been told my horse doesn’t like to race in the mud.” She made a break last week on a muddy track,  however,  she was a close second the time before when the track was dry.”

And Bob Hechkoff’s mount, May Night, who was charging home last week and finished a close second in a time of 2:01 and will have to be reckoned with when she leaves from the two-hole on Monday.
Nevertheless , the best assessment  of his chances by one of the drivers  in the race was spewed by Derick Giwner, who doubles as  Daily Racing Form Harness Managing Editor.

After Giwner found out he drew the eight hole with NF Wind Chimes, who hasn’t made the board in her last seven starts and is graciously rated at odds of 12-1, he jokingly  said  “I’ll bring my camera and take pictures of the other horses during the race. I should have a good view.”
However, two years ago Giwner finished second with a decided outsider, Ms Denise, and paid $12.80 for place.

Like post positions the driving assignments were also drawn by lot.
The field for the 15th annual Passover Pace, with post positions, early odds and driver assignments , lines up as follows:

#1-Isn’t She Lovely (Bobby Krivelin-5-2); #2- May Night (Bob Hechkoff-7-2); #3- Mary Lou (Peter Kleinhans-4-1); #4-Bullville Monarch (Dave Yarock-9-2);  #5-Miss Mathews (Murray Bassin-10-1);  #6 –Shezaflamintower (Alan Schwartz-3-1);  #7-Fulla Love (Alan Charles-8-1); and #-8- NF Wind Chimes (Derick Giwner-12-1).
The Passover Pace will be the fourth race on Monday afternoon card of April Fool’s day. Post time for the 12-race card will be at 12:50pm.

M1 - Hopskipanajump Looks to School Them in Rags to Riches Final

Lisa Zabielski could be just a “Hopskipanajump” away from winning Saturday’s $60,850 Rags to Riches Final.

The 25-year-old trainer from upstate New York is understandably excited about sending out one of the major contenders in the biggest race of her young career under the Meadowlands Racetrack spotlight.
Hopskipanajump drew post three in the field of the top ten money winners from three preliminary legs of the series.  The Rags to Riches Final is carded as the sixth race on a 13-race program.

The unique series which gives pacers in the $10,000 claiming range a chance to go for a substantial purse, is also tied to a promotion where fans have become “owners” of each finalist and are eligible to win five percent of their horse’s purse earnings.

Zabielski has been involved with horses as long she can remember, and now assists her father, trainer Paul Zabielski, with the operation of a training center, which is also a learning facility.

“I’m originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, and my father, Paul [50], has been a trainer since he was 18,” she explained.  “So, I kind of grew up in the business.  I’ve been in it every day since I was old enough to clean a stall.  My father is a first generation horseman.  He took a horse care class that was offered when he was in high school.  He would go to the barn every day and learn hands on.  It’s a two-year program, and the second year you learn the racing part of the business. 

“Now, he’s not only a trainer, but he also teaches the class on our farm,” she noted.  “It’s specifically for standardbreds, and it’s part of the Warren County-Saratoga Springs VO Tech school system.  There are about 15 different schools within a 50-mile radius.  They’re eleventh and twelfth graders who go to the regular school for half a day, then come to the barn and work on the horses for the other half of the day.  It’s the only school that offers horse care in New York State.  Right now, we have 15 kids that come in the morning and about 25 in the afternoon.  So, it’s an all day affair for us and it’s a lot fun.  Many of them have no experience with horses.  Several of the trainers in the area have gone through the program.

“We have about 70 acres, and we’re in the process of making it into a new training facility.  It’s under construction and should be done shortly.  We’ll offer 200 stalls.  We have a half-mile training track.  We’re installing a pool this Summer and an Equicizer.  My father has raced mostly at Saratoga Harness, and I do the traveling to other tracks.  It works out because I enjoy being on the road.”

The improbable odyssey of how a horse that gets claimed for $12,000 at Kawartha Downs by a Western New York horseman and ends up in the Meadowlands winner’s circle [twice] began with perceptive research, and then a snow storm.

“The owner [Michael Calimeri] had seen this horse race and was kind of keeping an eye on him,” said Zabielski.  “He also noticed the horse was in the Rags to Riches Series.  There was a really big snow storm where he is in the Buffalo area at the time, he debated on it, and decided to drive up to Kawartha Downs [in Fraserville, Ontario] and get the horse himself.  We certainly weren’t going to say no to a guy who really wanted this horse that much.  I had a horse named Most Fun Yet in a division of this series last year, and we didn’t get a check, so I knew what kind of horse you needed.  I’m expecting Mr. Calimeri to show up to watch him race this week.  

“We met Mr. Calimeri through Jim McNeight, a trainer and driver in the Buffalo area.  They sent the horse here because it’s closer to ship him from here to the Meadowlands.  I had been looking for a horse to race, and I think being from a bigger barn, now he’s responded to having more close attention.  We haven’t really changed much on him and he’s really a low maintenance horse.  The students get to handle him on a daily basis as well.” 

Hopskipanajump scored fresh off the claim with a gutsy mile in the first leg of the series, equaling his lifetime mark of 1:52.4.  The five-year-old son of Royal Art came back to win again in the second leg in 1:53.3, then finished second in round three.

“Hopskipanajump really surprised me when he won his first start,” admitted Zabielski.  “I’m not familiar with Kawartha Downs, and the night he was claimed he paced in 2:00.4 in the slop there.  So, I wondered if we were going to get a check with him here, but he’s been good ever since we got him.  I looked at his lines and it looked like his best races were at Pocono Downs, so I’m thinking he’d much rather prefer a bigger track.  He’s actually a tiny horse and one of the smallest we have here.  It sure helps to have one of the best drivers in Dave Miller.  I’m not sure at this point, but Dave might take Tamayo, so we’ll go with Mark MacDonald.

“Racing for $60,000 is great and it’s definitely the biggest race I’ve ever been in.  My first win at the Meadowlands was a division of the Super Bowl Series last year with Psyched, and he finished fifth in that final.  I still have him and he’s pretty much my house pet now.  We currently have ten horses and we’re looking to claim a few more.  We’re looking for another Meadowlands type horse.”

WFD - News About Monday's Draw

London, March 27, 2013 -- The Raceway at The Western Fair District wishes to advise horse people and its customers that the draw for this coming Monday afternoon has not been finalized as of yet pending the approval of the track’s betting permit.

The race office will be taking entries tomorrow morning for Tuesday and if approval is received the draw for both days will be released.
An update will be issued as soon as more information becomes available.

CalX1 - Thursday Barn Notes


By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

A $6,000 Open Trot headed by K D Amazin Spirit and I Love New York and a pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes for 3-year-olds are on tap Friday night at the Watch and Wager LLC meet at Cal Expo.

K D Amazin Spirit, who has posed for pictures following seven of his eight starts on the year for owner/breeder/trainer Keith Willey and driver Scott Cisco, has certainly earned his top billing in the Open Trot.

A 7-year-old son of Thadrow out of the Monterey Judge mare K D Charm, K D Amazin Spirit is going in the sharpest form of his career and has been putting his versatility on display in the process. He has won this season on the lead, from a stalking position and from last.

He comes into this assignment riding a three-race winning streak. The Willey representative made every pole a winning one with Cisco on March 8, came from last to be up by a head in a blanket finish the following week, then may have turned in his most impressive mile at most recent asking.

Used hard to the lead, he was overtaken at the half and was third behind favored Fort Valley As some three lengths back when straightened for home. K D Amazin Spirit just kept digging and rallied to prevail by a neck over longshot Shelby County with Fort Valley As tiring to third in the 1:57 mile.

I Love New York looms large for Bruce Clarke while Shelby County is back in action with Rocky Stidham. Completing the cast are Giles L S Hanover, El Azteca and Franks Best.

The two Sire Stakes will go as non-betting events. Among the pacing fillies, Strings, Show Runner and Babe Ridge have prevailed in the three big-money events for the division this season. In the trotting stakes that combines fillies and colts, Its Not Over captured the first two added-money clashes on the year, but it was More Tequila who scored the upset in the most recent gathering two weeks ago.



With the $15,000 Stan Bergstein Trot looming next week, Keith Willey looks to be sitting pretty with K D Amazin Spirit, who has posed for pictures following seven of his eight appearances this season.

Willey owns, bred and trains K D Amazin Spirit, a son of Thadrow out of the Monterey Chip mare K D Charm who has really come into his own as a 7-year-old. He’s won from just about every position this season with partner Scott Cisco, including last week’s score in the Open where even Keith thought he was going to be settling for a minor award at the head of the stretch.

“He’s always been very versatile when it comes to his style,” Willey related. “I’d have to say last week may have been his most impressive win this year, because I didn’t think he was going to get there after he got passed by those two horses on the far turn. But once he straightened for home, Scott raised the lines and tapped him, and the horse knows what that means and gave him a real strong finish. 

“He’s healthy and he’s happy, and that’s the secret. Last year he had some issues with his front ankle and wasn’t at his best, but he’s doing great now and it shows in his races.”

In the past, K D Amazin Spirit has been raced off the farm and only shipped in to race, but this season he’s stayed at the track and it has worked out nicely. “We’re certainly not going to change his routine now,” his mentor noted. “He just jogs every day and spends a few hours outside in a pen, which he really enjoys. He likes to have his room.”

While recent rival Fort Valley As has departed for points East, Bruce Clarke figures to have a big say in next week’s Bergstein with I Love New York. In this weekend’s tune-up for that event, he is drawn just inside K D Amazin Spirit and it should be interesting.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

M1 - Derian Wins WHHC Spot

Tedd Derian of the Bronx, NY, won the Meadowlands Racetrack’s March WHHC Qualifier held on March 23, 2013.  

Derian captured first place with a big score in the final race of the night.   His $40 win wager on Dana’s Sharp Smart in Race 12 paid $304 and ended his night with a bankroll of $466.50.

 Derian’s win earned him the $2,280 cash prize and a $1,000 seat in the World Harness Handicapping Championship to be held on April 13 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

$1,000 Buy-in entries are now available for the World Harness Handicapping Championship on April 13, 2013.  Visit for complete details and to download the Finals brochure.

Tournament Standings – March 23, 2013
Rank, Name, Bankroll, Prize
1, Tedd Derian, $466.50, $2,280 (Plus $1,000 WHHC seat)
2, Brian Ketover, $393.50, $1,140
3, Ed Lambert, $356, $855
4, Don Morgan, $313, $570
5, Frank Palmer, $249, $285
6, Joe Barre, $243, $285
7, Rich Preziotti, $228, $114
8, Del Kern, $199, $114
9, Grace Radice, $185.50, $114
10, Robert Buzzel, $153, $114




More and more, the Mighty M the trainer-driver combination of Bob Lounsbury and Bruce Aldrich Jr. continues to be extremely hard to beat.

The two stats leaders added yet another win to their seasonal resumes when Aldrich guided the Lounsbury-trained DVC Gifted Indeed to a stunning upset of Haroun Hanover (Jimmy Marohn, Jr.) who was a 2-5 favorite to score his 10th victory of the year on Tuesday, March 26.

Instead of yielding to the odds-on favorite Aldrich gunned DBVC Gifted Indeed  to the lead as the wings of the mobile starting gate folded and  played catch me if you can, and although it appeared that DVC Gifted Indeed might fold  late in the mile the pacer reached down and  held tough en route to a  one length triumph over Happyending and Zeke Parker and  in a time of 1:57.1

After the face a disappointed Marohn was contacted in the paddock.

“He was no good today, “Marohn said about Haroun Hanover who finished fourth in his quest for his 10th seasonal victory.

“I was surprised that he wasn’t on his game. He didn’t grab on as he usually does and in fact I was loose-lining him most of the way. He was empty.

“He seemed like he was off (unsound) up front.”

Meanwhile the connections of DVC Gifted Indeed were happy. The 6 year old Place To Be gelding, a 14-timewinner last year, now has four wins, two seconds and one third in eight starts.

“He (DVC Gifted Indeed) too, is not a sound horse but he has a big heart and in the right class he’s a monster, that is, until his aches and pains slow him down,” Lounsbury said.

Owned by Irwin Kaplan  of Merrick, NY  DVC Gifted Indeed paid $17.00 for win.

With his defeat the Danny Gill- trained Haroun Hanover really has nothing to be ashamed of. The pacer has nine wins in 12 starts and until the Monticello- based Tracys Song--- also a Lounsbury-Aldrich connection--- won on Monday(March 25) afternoon both pacers were tied for the most wins in North America this year.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

M1 - Meadowlands Late Pick 4 Gets Even Better.

The Late Pick 4 at the Meadowlands has long been harness racing’s best bet.  That has never been more the case than this season, with the wager averaging nearly $85,000 per night.  Now, the Meadowlands is pleased to make that wager even better.

Beginning Friday, April 5th, The Late Pick 4 at the Meadowlands will carry an opportunity for a 10 percent bonus.  The specifics of the bonus are as follows:

1)      Late Pick 4 Wager is Placed at either the Meadowlands Racetrack or Winners Bayonne.

2)      Late Pick 4 Wager is Placed with a Big M Club Player Rewards Card.

3)      The winning ticket must be for picking 4 out of 4 winners.

a.       Both 3 out of 4 payouts and payouts for leg cancellation do not qualify for a bonus.

4)      The largest bonus payout per ticket is $500.

5)      Bonus will be credited to customer’s Big M Club Player Rewards Account within 48 hours of the conclusion of the Late Pick 4.

a.       Customer will be able to access his Big M Club Account at any Rewards Kiosk, where he can access his bonus and print out a voucher for the amount of his or her bonus.


For example, if a Big M Club Member were to hit the Late Pick 4 for $3,000 and the wager was placed with a Big M Club Card at either the Meadowlands Racetrack or Winners Bayonne, that customer would receive a $300 bonus.

“We recognize that the Late Pick 4 at the Meadowlands is a fan favorite and if we can find a way to make it even better, we will,” said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali.  “In addition, this will give those fans that are not Big M Club members another reason to join the program and come out to the Meadowlands for live racing.”

The promotion begins Friday April 5th.

M1 - Meadowlands Increases Purses for Younger Horses

The Meadowlands Racetrack condition sheet will reflect a purse increase for conditioned races for younger horses beginning next week.  The increase will be applied to fillies/mares and colts, both pacers and trotters.  The new purse structure for these races will be as follows:

Non-Winners Of 1 Pari-Mutuel Race:   $10,000  (Increased From $9,000)

Non-Winners Of 2 Pari-Mutuel Races: $12,500  (Increased From $9,500)

Non-Winners Of 3 Pari-Mutuel Races: $15,000  (Increased From $12,500)

It is important to give owners an opportunity to race the horses they purchased as yearlings in events that offer a solid purse structure.  This will prove beneficial to the owners that purchase these yearlings, the breeders that sell them and will result in a stronger wagering product for the betting public.

“We hope that this is just the first step on the road to gradually increasing our overnight purses across the board throughout the year,” said Jason Settlemoir, General Manager of The New Meadowlands Racetrack.  “We are hopeful the betting handle will continue to perform at a high level and give us an opportunity to raise purses further in the future.”


Again this year racing at Goshen’s Historic Track will include both Grand Circuit events and matinee races.

On tap this season will be three matinee race programs on Sundays in June followed by four days of Grand Circuit racing in early  July .
The 103rd  year of Grand Circuit Racing will commence  Thursday, July 4th  and continue through Sunday, July 7th

The race dates will include the following:
* Thursday July 4th  --the New York County Fair Stakes
* Friday, July 5th --the Landmark Stakes
*Saturday, July 6th --the New York Excelsior Series for Pacers; the C.K.G. Billings and the Catskill Amateurs

Sunday July 7th  Hall of Fame Day--the Hall of Fame Trot, the New York Excelsior Series for Trotters and the race-under saddle
Later that Sunday evening the Hall of Fame Banquet will be held on the lawn of the Harness Racing Museum.

The 53rd season of matinee racing will be offered on the Sundays of June 2nd; June 9th , and June 17th.
At this time box seats are available at $225 providing there is response prior to April 30.

To reserve  box seats, or for further information about the upcoming race meet, please contact Historic Track by calling 845-294-5333  or email Linda Myers at Otherwise additional information can be found at



An old country song by Jerry Reed proclaimed “when you’re hot… you’re hot” and that is just what Tracys Song is, and has been, at Monticello Raceway.

The 8 year old Astreos mare scored her 10th consecutive victory on Monday afternoon, March 25th which  equals the Mighty M track record for most wins in-a-row by a mare. With that 1:58.2 triumph Tracys Song has regained sole command of the North American leaderboard for most wins thus far this season.

However, according to her trainer Bob Lounsbury this win came harder than the other nine .

“When I handed the lines to Bruce (Aldrich, Jr. her driver)  I said to him you’re not going to like her today, Lounsbury related/ “She’s a little sore and warmed up bad.”

Lounsbury reasoned that the extra soreness in his pacing mare was due to the fact that his veterinarian didn’t get a chance to work on her this past week.

“I thought for sure her win streak would end today,” Lounsbury said from the paddock judge’s phone after the race as driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. joined him there. “ I can’t tell you how surprised I was when she won again.”

“Unfortunately Bob was right when he told me she was sore,” Aldrich concurred. “She was on one line bad and with the track a little deep it was hard on her suspensories (suspensory ligaments). But she’s always been real game and she showed it  in spades today when she held on to win even though she  didn’t bring her ‘A Game’.

“When you drive enough horses you realize that winners find a way to win while losers find a way to lose,” Aldrich added.

Once again, as had been her seasonal  MO , Aldrich sent Tracys Song to the lead and coasted along relatively unchallenged in the early going. It wasn’t until the field straightened for home that Temptation Queen and driver Zeke Parker made a real serious charge and although they got to Tracys Song’s neck they couldn’t get by her and they had to settle for second place. Eagle Hilarious was third for  Kyle DiBenedetto.

Sent off as the 1-4 favorite in the $7500 claiming pace, Tracys Song paid $2.50 for win.

Owner, Nancy Fugere, with a grin from ear to ear, joined in for the winners circle presentation.

“I just can’t believe how good she has been and today she showed real grit and how much she likes to win,” Fugere said. “She’s one tough cookie.”                     

Wheeling N Dealin Tops Lists Of 116 Colts Eligible to 2013 Hambletonian

(March 25, Cranbury, NJ) - The $1.2 million Hambletonian and filly companion stakes, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, will be raced on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 3, at the Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, New Jersey. The 88th edition of the classic event will revert to the format of heat racing as conducted from 1991-1996, with eliminations and the final on the same day.  

Eliminations for the Hambletonian Oaks, if necessary, will be raced the prior week, Saturday, July 27.

Year-end Dan Patch & O’Brien honoree Wheeling N Dealin tops a list of 116 trotting colts eligible to the richest and most prestigious event in harness racing.

Owned by Quebec businessman Serge Godin, Wheeling N Dealin, a son of Cantab Hall, completed an undefeated season in 2012, with nine wins and $696,112 in the bank. Major victories included the William Wellwood Memorial and Breeders Crown for trainer Dustin Jones, who is hoping the third time’s a charm after finishing seventh twice in the Hambletonian with Uhadadream (2000) and Prestidigitator (2012).

“He just trained excellent – I went a doubleheader with him – and I’m aiming to qualify him the first week in June,” said Jones. “I’m hoping to get two or three starts into him at Mohawk and see how he is. Maybe a prep race at The Meadowlands the week before the Hambletonian so he can go over the track and get used to things.”

As for the return to heat racing in the summer event, Jones isn’t unduly concerned.

“It’s the Hambletonian- I want to be in it no matter what the format it is,” he continued. “As a kid in Quebec we went heats all day long and it didn’t bother the horses. This horse in particular is easy on himself, warms up so relaxed and is so easy to drive. Others are harder on themselves.”     

The 2012 Peter Haughton Winner Aperfect Yankee is also on the eligible list. Only two other Haughton winners have gone on to win the Hambletonian, which would place the Jim Oscarsson-trainee in the esteemed company of Donato Hanover (2007) and Muscle Hill (2009).

Both colts were ranked well behind fillies Bee A Magician and To Dream On – who topped the freshman money-earning list with $766,652 and $727,320 respectively - in the new Hoof Beats/Trackmaster Predictive Ratings, a computer-generated ranking system based on speed ratings, track variant and post position. The first colt in the ratings is the diminutive Dontyouforgetit, Jimmy & Christina Takter’s homebred son of Solveig, in third place. Wheeling N Dealin is ranked at #5 and Aperfect Yankee #7.

To Dream On also took Dan Patch divisional and Breeders Crown honors, and along with Bee A Magician and Fashion Athena (ranked #3) make up a list of 91 fillies eligible to the Oaks.

The Hambletonian Society, which has owned and serviced the race since its inception in 1926, received 207 total payments for the 88th edition of the classic race, hosted by the Meadowlands Racetrack since 1981. There are no supplemental entries permitted in the Hambletonian and Oaks, nor are participants allowed to race on Lasix or Butazolidin. Along with the four juvenile Breeders Cup races for thoroughbreds, they are the only events in North American horse racing that prohibit the use of any race day medication.

The Hambletonian is the second leg of trotting's Triple Crown. The first, the Yonkers Trot, takes place Saturday, July 27 at Yonkers Raceway. The third leg, the Kentucky Futurity, is scheduled to be raced Sunday, Oct. 6 in Lexington. The last trotter to win the Triple Crown was Glidemaster in 2006.

The Hambletonian trail commences Saturday, May 4, with the Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway.

Eligibles for all Hambletonian-serviced stakes can be found at

Monday, March 25, 2013


The third leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Association’s Charity Trotting Series saw Anthony Verruso  take advantage of racing luck and a blowing wind  to rally his 7 year old  trotting mare Sam’s Honeybee to a 1-1/2 length triumph over six others at Freehold Raceway on the Saturday afternoon of  March 23. And according to winning driver the wind played a role in his victory.

“The wind was pretty strong that day and it was blowing in the faces of the horses as they headed for home. And it was that wind that helped me make a winning move,” Verruso explained.
“The winds were at our backs as we headed for the three quarters and it was because of the wind I made up my mind to challenge for the lead on the straightaway. It worked out well, too,  because at that point Dave ( Offenberg  on the lead with favored  Whatnblazes) was attempting to give his horse a breather and when  I moved my mare she cleared before the final turn. From there I believe the head-wind  in the lane helped us remain in control, but still Sam (‘s Honeybee)  had to trot a 29:3 final quarter to hold on for the win.”
Offenberg and Whatnblazes was a nose better than third place finisher For Goodness Lindy, driven by Paul  Minore.
Carl Gillespie trains Sam’s Honeybee for Verruso,  her proud owner.  She paid $12.80 for win.
The Freehold race  was the third preliminary leg of the three -track trotting series which began at Monticello Raceway on February 21  and when it ends in mid-May at Yonkers Raceway the NAADA Series will again donate money  to a worthwhile  charity.


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

YONKERS, NY, Monday, March 25, 2013--Yonkers Raceway has announced a purse increase for its races featuring younger pacers.
Beginning with the racing week of Monday, Apr.1, the non-winners of two parimutuel races and/or $20,000 lifetime goes for $15,000 (up from $10,000), while the non-winners of four parimutuel races and/or $40,000 lifetime goes for $18,000 (up from $13,000). Both classes are restricted to 3- and 4-year-olds, regardless of gender.
All other classes and conditions remain with their current purse structures, were raised for the race week beginning tonight.
A friendly reminder, too, that nominations for the 2013 Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace (2-year-old colts and geldings) close a week from today (Mon., Apr. 1). Forms are available everywhere, including in the nightly racing program and on-line at
For more information, please contact the race office at (914) 457-2627.
The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, 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.