For Opinion, click here for View from the Racetrack Grandstand

Monday, July 7, 2014


The competing amateurs in the C.K.G. Billings Trotting Series stepped back in time this weekend when they traveled to the Cradle of the Trotter in the Land O’ Goshen and compete over Historic Track, the National Historic Landmark and the world’s oldest harness track.

It was  back to the way racing used to be over the track that has been in existence since the late 1830’s and the place where  the sports great progenitor, Hambletonian was shown to the attending crowds.

Three Billings trots were contested on July 5 and the winning drivers included, “Joltin’ Joe” Pennacchio, Dave “Steady As” Yarock, and Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff.

In his contest, which was the first of the three, Pennacchio got to drive Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford’s old warrior, Celtic Merchant, since Oldford is in Finland representing the U.S. in the World Cup of Amateur Racing. And Pennacchio did him proud.

When the gate sprung he sent Celtic Merchant to the lead and they were never in trouble as the old warrior trotted through fractions of :30.0; 1:01:1 and 1:31.2 before finishing in 2:01.3 some four lengths ahead of Drill Sergeant Sam and driver Tony “the Capo” Verruso. Two lengths farther back in third place was Some Kinda Spunky, driven by “Johnny On The Spot” Kolkowski.

The second Billings trot was inundated with breaking horses with four of the seven trotters going off-stride in the race which made it quite easy for Rompaway Alvin (Dave Yarock), the eventual winner.

Rodeo Red and “Smokin’ Joe” Faraldo took command after they left from the four hole and they were comfortable on the lead especially when Keystone Sadie driven by Peter “Sycamore Ventures” Gerry made a break at the half and caused problems for two others.

Although Yarock pulled the two hole  going to the half with his trotter Rompaway Alan  proved to be stronger than Faraldo’s Rodeo Red when the two trotters raced eyeball to eyeball up the backside and when Rodeo Red went off-stride on the final turn Rompaway Alvin romped away to a 19-length triumph in a time of 2:01:1. Rodeo Red got back on stride and took home second money while Martz Creek Rex finished third for Scott “the Money Man” Price

A final Billings trot saw Bob Hechkoff  leave swiftly with Get Packin  from the pole and go wire to wire  for a 2:02.4 triumph. But victory came hard at the end of the mile as Scott “the Driving Doctor” Woogen and Armstead Kyra charged at the leader at the top of the stretch and they slowly erased the two-length lead that Get Packin had. However, Hechkoff’s trotter hung gamely  and rebuffed Armstead Kyra  to score a neck victory  over the good doctor’s mare. Third place went to Nearly Uncle driven by “Bullet Bob” Davis.