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Thursday, October 31, 2013

CalX1 - Kennedy, Inside Broadway getting along famously

           By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

James Kennedy had never driven the 4-year-old trotter Inside Broadway prior to opening night here at Cal Expo, but in the ensuing three weeks they have formed a solid partnership that resulted in a win at the head of the class last weekend.

Inside Broadway, who is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson, checked in fourth in his first start at this stand after making an extended first-over move at the half, then was hard-used early in his next appearance and garnered the show money. In last week’s tour, the trotter flexed his muscles with Kennedy’s guidance and motored away to an impressive two and a half-length score.

“Bob really didn’t give me any instructions for that first start,” James related when asked about the October 5 outing. “I came first-over with him out of last, he gave it a good try to deep stretch and then I got the impression he was a little short.

“I played it by ear for the second start and decided to leave with him. He had to be used pretty hard in that opening quarter and I was happy with the effort. It set him up nicely for last time.”

Sent off at 9-2 from the No. 5 post for his most recent appearance, Inside Broadway was able to take a three-hole tuck around the first turn while tracking Running Aces invader Rich Dessert. He was out to engage the leader turning for home, took a clear advantage soon after straightening for home and left little doubt in a powerful mile.

“I though it would be in our best interest to leave strong and make the top, at least for a little while,” Kennedy noted. “That didn’t happen, but fortunately I was able to duck in and drop third. He felt really strong when I pulled him and he made the lead into the stretch. To be honest, I was surprised he won that easily. Surprised, but very happy.”

Will James Kennedy be pleasantly surprised again? We’ll find out after Saturday night’s second race where Inside Broadway leaves from the No. 4 slot in the field of six. Hoping to spoil a curtain call are Axle and Franks Best to this outside and Alpine Hawk, Rich Dessert and Sharpshootennorris to his inside.

Top pacers, top trotters sharing the spotlight

 Inside Broadway was a game first-over winner in last week’s clash at the head of the division and eyes an encore in the Open 2 Trot, while Phantom Dan and One And Only are among the leading players in the co-featured Open 2 Pace at Cal Expo Saturday night. A 13-race card is on tap with first post set at 6:10 p.m.

A 4-year-old son of Broadway Hall out of the American Winner mare Inside Edition, Inside Broadway is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and will once again have James Kennedy giving directions.

It had been a rather lean season for the trotter coming into last week’s action, with just one victory to show from 22 trips to the post on the year, but the Johnson representative made 9-2 look like a gift. He left for third-place tuck for Kennedy, was first-over going into the final bend to put away the leader and drew off by two and a half-lengths in a 1:58 3/5 tour.

Axle was a solid runner-up at 9-1 that evening and is coming off back-to-back big tries here, having taken the measure of a softer group in his previous outing. George Reider trains and co-owns the son of Hard Rock N Roll, who was claimed for $5,000 at Running Aces in August. David Siegel will be at the controls once again and he co-owns the trotter with Reider, Bob Thronson and Greg Robinson.

Alpine Hawk is a fan favorite with many victories over this layout and has to be respected with Rich Wojcio in the sulky. He is on the verge of going over the $200,000 earnings mark and was an easier-than-looks winner at this level two weeks ago. Jim Winske owns and he hails from the Gordie Graham barn.

Franks Best gives the Bob Johnson barn another solid look at the outcome. A multiple stakes winner at this layout with $176,000 in the bank, he is looking to make amends after checking in third last weekend as the 9-5 choice. The son of Armbro Scribe can really roll home in the lane and always makes it interesting.

The Open Pace looms a contentious affair and they will line up as follows from the rail: Thedeadliestcast for trainer Gordie Graham; In Confident for the Bob Johnson barn; Giant Sculpture for driver/trainer Gene Vallandingham; the Lino Pacheco-conditioned One And Only and Phantom Dan for pilot/conditioner James Kennedy.

M1 - Meadowlands & SBOANJ Announce Horsemen's Reward Program

To those of you who plan to race at the Meadowlands when we reopen in November, at the request of the SBOANJ, we have agreed to implement a Horsemen’s Reward Program when taking entries for overnight races through the beginning of March.  The purpose of this program is to reward those trainers who supported the Meadowlands during the 2103 racing season and for the most part will only affect those classes that are historically oversubscribed in December, January and February. 
Director of Racing Peter Koch believes that classes B1 and above will not be affected but we wanted those of you who are planning to purchase overnight horses at Harrisburg to be aware of the program. 
We look forward to welcoming everyone when the new meet opens and we hope you will join us for a preview on November 21st when we host the second round of qualifiers.  Details on the plans for the 21st will be made public shortly. 
Those with questions regarding the program should contact Pete Koch, Director of Racing in The Meadowlands Race Office.


Four years ago the Monticello-Goshen Chapter USHWA named an award in honor of the late Hall of Famer and former chapter president, Phil Pines.  Since then  there have been some worthy recipients and this year’s beneficiary, Derick Giwner, is no exception.

Giwner is a man for all seasons as far as harness racing is concerned. He was a writer and editor of Sports Eye and over the years, despite takeovers and name changes at the company, Derick managed to work his way up the ladder to his current position as the Editor of DRF Harness for the  Daily Racing Form.

Giwner began his love affair with harness racing in the early 1990’s while taking trips to Yonkers Raceway to see the great trotters of the era like Scenic Regal and Dr Trotta.

He continued on to earn his BBA in Marketing before getting his feet wet in the harness racing industry as an  editor at Sports Eye, a daily harness news publication and printing company, in 1996.

Initially starting as a chart caller, program editor and handicapper, Derick used his free time to explore other facets of the sport.  In 1998, Giwner competed in the first ever Sports Eye Battle of Monticello, a harness race in jog carts amongst employees. After winning the race with Rasta Hanover with a four wide move on the final turn, he was hooked and immediately started pursuing a license to driver in “real” races.

Since getting his Provisional license in 1999 Derick has driven in over 80 races as an Amateur Driver. During that time he has also been involved as an owner with horses such as Call Me Cam, Kentucky Flyer, Christy Rae  and Twin B Sassy, among some of his favorites.

On the other side of the fence and high above the action, Derick spent time in the announcers booth calling the action. After learning the ropes at Yonkers Raceway from veterans Bob Meyer and John Hernan, Derick went on to call races at Goshen Historic Track, Monticello Raceway, Bangor Raceway, and even made a guest appearance calling a race at the Meadowlands in 2012.

As the head of harness content for the DRF, Derick writes a weekly blog and daily features. He is also the lead handicapper for the Meadowlands and manages all social media (Twitter/Facebook) for the DRF Harness brand. He can often be found covering big events, from the Little Brown Jug to the Hambletonian, or simply watching live qualifying action. As his sometimes neglected wife Stephanie, and kids Jenna and Emily will attest, harness racing consumes his life.

Derick also wrote a chapter covering half-mile track racing (specifically Yonkers Raceway) in Dave Brower’s book, Harnessing Winners: The Complete Guide to Handicapping Harness Races and he’s always  looking to promote harness racing.

Writing and handicapping aside, Derick also dabbles in photography and can often be seen shooting pictures at racetracks across the country.

On Sunday evening, November 17 Giwner will receive his award when the scribes hold their 55th Annual Awards Banquet at The Fountains on Sands Road in Middletown, NY.

For reservations, congratulatory ads, or for further information, please contact chapter president, Chris Tully at 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CalX1 - Late Closing Series Kick-Off on First Friday Night of the Season

Bob Staats Pacing series, Don Lovier Memorial set 
          By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Two divisions of the first leg of the Bob Staats Pacing series and the Don Lovier Memorial Pace featuring Haggin Oaks and That’s Mara have center stage at Cal Expo Friday evening.

A 13-card is on tap as the Watch and Wager LLC meet will now find the trotters and pacers in action on Friday and Saturday nights. First post has been set at 6:10 for Friday’s program.

Gene Vallandingham figures to have a strong say in the opening leg of the Staats as his barn will have three representatives in each division, including last week’s winners After Alimony and R Journey Together, both of whom he will guide. 

That’s Mara also gives Gene a major look in the co-featured Lovier Memorial as she is coming off a game decision two weeks ago and should be well supported in the event. She will be taking on the likes of the hard-hitting Haggin Oaks, Strings, Scooter Babe and No Mo Parking. That event carries a $4,500 purse and goes as the third on the card, while the Staats divisions are scheduled as the seventh and twelfth contests.

After Alimony deserves plenty of respect as the Staats series gets underway after turning in a pair of big races since arriving from the East Coast. Owned by A Piece of the Action LLC and reined and trained by Vallandingham, she finished nicely for second in her local debut and then proved a punctual 3-5 favorite in last week’s tour in a 1:57 flat performance.

R Journey Together is a 3-year-old daughter of Western Ideal who races for the same connections. Like her stablemate, she was a runner-up in her local debut after coming in from Pocono Downs and followed with a trip to the winner’s circle last week as the odds-on choice.

That’s Mara looks to make it two straight in the Lovier and could be part of a big night for A Piece of the Action LLC and Vallandingham. The 4-year-old Lis Mara offspring took the measure of an optional claiming field on opening night, was hard used early and paid the price at second asking here and then rebounded to hold safe by a neck with this group last time.

VD7/8 - The Simpsons are at Vernon Downs

The John F. Simpson Memorial stakes, a Grand Circuit event for two year old pacers and trotters makes a stop at Vernon Downs on the evening of Friday, November 1.

The freshman trotting colts start the show in races one and three dubbed the "Super Bowl", with a pair of five horse fields each for a purse of $13,271. Trainer Chris Ryder has a Muscle Hill contender in each division and has an ownership position in both.

Well Built has had a consistent if unspectacular campaign and broke maiden in a Vernon overnight event just last week. Jim Meittinis is listed to drive the colt on Friday evening for Ryder and partner Robert Mondillo.

Muscle On In is the more accomplished of Ryder's pair, having won the Harold Dancer Memorial and NJ Futurity at Freehold this fall. He has earned more than $60,000 for the partnership of Ryder and Mondillo along with Max Wernick. Chris will drive this one from post four in the abbreviated field.

Trotting fillies go for $25,716 in race seven, named for the grand dame Davidia Hanover where Ruby looks like the one to beat. She is an Explosive Matter filly trained by Erv Miller for Patrick Quaid and James Bafia who comes to the Simpson off a solid fourth in the Breeders Crown final. Meittinis catches the drive on her from the advantageous post two.

The "Bret Hanover" (race ten) is comprised of six pacing colts and geldings racing for $25,341. Beat The Drum is a Tell All colt who's won a few stakes this summer, including the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs and took a 1:53- record winning a NJSS leg at The Meadowlands. He's made just shy of $90,000 for trainer Staffan Lind who owns him in partnership with Bender Sweden, Inc.  Jim Meittinis has the drive on this morning line choice as well.

The filly pace, christened the "Razzle Hanover", boasts a competitive field of six with JK Molly and Ideal Helen the most accomplished.

JK Molly was a factor all summer in the NYSS program, earning over $115,000 and took a fast 1:52.1 mark right here at Vernon in early September for owners the 3 Brothers Stable. Ron Burke trains and Roman Lopez has the drive on the Art Major lass.

Ideal Helen has had a successful season in the Garden State with seven wins and nearly $120,000 earned for owner/breeder D. R. Van Witzenberg. She counts the Review Stakes, NJ Futurity and Babic Filly Stake among her conquests while in the care of Erv Miller. Chris Lems will plot her course from the outside.

Post time is 6:45pm at Vernon on Friday. The season is winding down with just one more weekend of live racing to go. Visit the Vernon website for further information