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Friday, October 31, 2014

Cane Pace Heads To Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands

 The Cane Pace will find a new home in 2015.  For the first time, the first leg of the pacing Triple Crown will head to The Meadowlands.  It will join the star-studded Hambletonian Day card on August 8, 2015. 

The move is one that is not only great for The Meadowlands, but for the harness racing industry.

“Having the best three year old pacers in the sport competing on Hambletonian Day is going to be great for The Meadowlands and Hambletonian Day,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural.   “The Cane Pace is so rich in its history and it  deserves a place on harness racing’s biggest stage and adding it to The Hambletonian Day card will do just that.”

In addition to the Cane Pace, it’s filly counterpart, the Shady Daisy, will also join The Hambletonian Day program.  The Meadowlands will also be adding a “sister race” to the John Cashman Memorial for the aged mare trotters on Hambletonian Day.

“The Hambletonian is a spectacle in itself,” said General Manager Jason Settlemoir, “but these additions to The Hambletonian Day card means there will be a major stake race for every category of standardbred that are age three or older.  I think these additions to program will make the 2015 Hambletonian Day program the greatest Hambletonian Day card the sport has ever seen.”

“In addition, I would like to thank our sister track, Tioga Downs, for being such a great host of this event for the last few years.  This move is done with the vision to solidify The Cane Pace as not only an integral part of pacing’s Triple Crown, but also to solidify its status as one of the premier races for the three year old pacers each year and Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands provides the platform to accomplish just that.”

There will be some adjustments made to the conditions of the Cane due to its new location on the racing calendar.

“There are an abundance of races for the three year old pacers over the course of the summer,” said Director of Racing Operations Darin Zoccali.  “The major change to the race will be that it will not contest eliminations, which we feel will make the race more appealing to the leading three year old pacers. No eliminations will also enhance the purse of the Cane Pace Final for 2015.  We will provide full details regarding the updated conditions of The Cane Pace in the near future”

The Cane Pace is the first leg of Pacing’s Triple Crown. It was created in 1955 and originally raced as “The Cane Futurity.”  The Meadowlands will be the fifth host track of The Cane Pace, joining Yonkers Raceway, Freehold Raceway, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and Tioga Downs as venues that have hosted the first jewel of pacing’s Triple Crown.

Meadowlands Implements Rule Limiting Multiple Entries By One Trainer

Beginning with the 2014-2015 season at The Meadowlands, there will be a new condition attached to all Late and Early Closer Finals that limits the number of horses a trainer can enter into the Final of those events.  All Late Closer and Early Closer Finals will carry the following clause:

" No trainer may race more than two horses in this race.  This does not apply to any horses raced in a trainer's stable from the first charted race of the horse’s career. Any trainer change that applies to the spirit of this condition must be made a minimum of 30 days in advance of the race date to be considered valid for the purpose of this race."

This rule has been implemented in response to our customers complaints regarding trainers having an abundance of horses in one race while being sure not to discourage any horsemen from purchasing yearlings.  This clause does allow a trainer to enter any number of horses he wishes into the Final of a Late Closer or Early Closer, provided he or she has been that horse’s trainer since its first charted race, including baby races and qualifiers.  However, a trainer will be limited to entering two horses that he or she has not trained since its first charted race.

“This rule is in the best interest of the betting public, the horsemen and the harness racing industry as a whole,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural.  "The purpose of this rule is to address complaints we have received from our customers and to avoid discouraging anyone from purchasing yearlings.  We recognize that if a trainer should happen to have three good horses that fit the condition of a race that he or she has trained since the beginning of his career, he or she should be allowed to enter all three.  This rule impacts only horses that are no longer racing for their original trainer.”

In addition, a trainer change between the rounds of eliminations and Finals for the events at The Meadowlands will not be allowed simply to ensure a certain horse can enter the Final.  The trainer change must be made a minimum of 30 days prior to the date of the race, thus the horse will have to race through the entire series for the new trainer.

Any horsemen with questions should contact The Meadowlands Race Office.


Two well contested trots went to post at Yonkers Raceway prior to the betting card getting underway and when the dust had settled Dave Glasser and Shane Darish each were victorious in their respective divisions. Glasser won with Sir Siro in a time of 2:00.4 while Darish was triumphant with Alaric in 2:02.4.

In their event Glasser had Sir Siro in a pocket behind the pace-setter, Tagmaster driven by Bob Hechkoff and he was content to follow the leader.

Paul Minore was the first to attack when he moved Wygant Prince out to challenge the leader near the half-way point and they made a run all the way to the top of the stretch. Meanwhile Glasser was sitting chilly and in the lane he fed Sir Siro racetrack and the veteran trotter zipped by Tagmaster and then held off a late charge from Rev It Now and Hannah Miller to score a length victory in 2:00.4. 
Tagmaster held on for third money. Wygant Prince faded and finished fourth.

Sir Siro is trained by Danny Gill for the Blue Forest Stable.

In the other trot, Frank Darish’s grandson, Shane Darish, sent Alaric to the lead from the two- hole but when Chuckie B and Alan Schwartz came calling he allowed them to take command as the two approached the firststanza. However, no sooner had Schwartz moved his trotter down along the pylons than Darish was out and retook the lead.

From there Alaric went on to a two length triumph over Rompaway Alvin and driver Dave Yarock. Jimmer and Bob Davis took home the show dough in that one.

Alaric is owned and trained by Johnny Kolkowski.

The Yonkers trots were the final leg of this year NAADA Fall Series. The top eight drivers with the most points in the series will battle on Thursday, November 6 for a $14,000 purse. Should the next eight in points enter there will be a $5000 consolation at Freehold Raceway on November 7.

Those who earned a berth in the finale and their points in the series are as follows: Bob Hechkoff (37), Hannah Miller (36), Kelly Walker (25), Bob Davis (21), Dave Yarock (21), Shane Darish (20), Bobby Krivelin (16) and Paul Minore (15). Dave Glasser with 14 points, and Matt Zuccarello with 12 points, are the also eligibles.

Cal Expo Barn Notes for Sunday

Hard-hitting distaffers kick off Sunday racing

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

A contentious Open III event for pacing fillies and mares headlines the first Sunday program of the Cal Expo meeting.

Racing is now being conducted here under the Watch and Wager LLC banner on Saturday and Sunday nights with a first post of 4:45 Pacific on Sundays. Plans call for an expansion to a three-night-a-week schedule on December 26 with Friday action being added to the mix.

Looking at the feature, High Bet Hanover is a 6-year-old daughter of Bettor’s Delight out of the Artsplace mare Highland Dexter who is owned by Kc C Carvalho, conditioned by Tim Brown and will once again have the services of Luke Plano.

The bay miss was a close second in the first two legs of the aforementioned Funicello Series, then rode a second-over journey to victory in the October 18 finale of the event as she showed the way home by a length and a quarter over Wild About Eagle in that event while lowering her mark to 1:53 4/5 in the process.

Wheeled back in a conditioned contest last weekend, High Bet Hanover was sent off the 4-5 favorite. She found herself well back early and with too much to do, but did come calling late to finish second while missing by three-quarters of a length in another big mile.

Wild About Eagle will be looking to avenge her loss to High Bet Hanover in the Funicello final. The 7-year-old daughter of The Panderosa is owned by Kathy Plested and Mark Benvenga with Steve Wiseman doing the driving and training.

In last week’s tour she drew the tough 9 slot, but was able to leave strong and eventually settled into the two-hole by the quarter. Once straightened for home, she took aim on favored pace-setter Windsun T Bird and overhauled that one by a neck while recording a 1:55 flat mile.


High Bet Hanover goes for solid trio

High Bet Hanover figures to have her share of backers in Sunday’s filly-mare main event as she goes postward for the productive team of owner Kc C Carvalho, trainer Tim Brown and pilot Luke Plano.

The 6-year-old Bettor’s Delight mare captured the finale of the Annette Funicello Series two starts back while lowering her lifetime mark to 1:53 4/5 in the process, then finished gamely be second while taking on males in last week’s assignment.

“We bought her privately last year to fill a spot we needed with our Minnesota barn,” Brown related. “She had a good meet, but then she started hitting herself and there were some shoeing issues that had to be worked out.”

High Bet Hanover lost tough decisions in the first two legs of the Funicello, but got the job done in the finale while changing tactics to ride a second-over journey to the stretch.
“Luke used to have her, so he knows her real well and drives her great,” Tim said.

 “I actually think she’s better when she can sit near the pace, but she got a perfect trip in the final and it all worked out.”

Sunday’s headliner is a chance for High Bet Hanover to renew acquaintances with Wild Wild About Eagle, who hung a nose decision on her earlier in the meet before completing the exacta behind her in the Funicello finale.

Tim Brown and Kc C Carvalho have formed one of the more lucrative owner/trainer relationships on the Cal Expo backside in recent memory. “I’ve trained for him for three years now, and he’s more like a brother to me than an owner. He’s very much involved in everything to do with the horses.”

Crawford Farms to receive Excelsior Award from Monticello-Goshen USHWA

from the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of United States Harness Writers Assoc.

Monticello, NY--Few harness horse breeders have made a larger multi-media splash this year than Crawford Farms of Durhamville, New York.

From the second-story Crawford Farms mural at The Meadowlands to the Red Mile Grand Circuit meet where the water trucks proudly displayed the farm’s iconic insignia, racing fans are constantly reminded of the dynamic duo’s substantial commitment to the sport.  Evident across multiple digital platforms, the Crawford’s are very active on social media and have produced and broadcast several TV commercials during key, nationally televised harness races, including the Hambletonian.

Driven by a passion for the sport, and a desire to help harness racing prosper, the Crawford’s have sponsored this season’s Meadowlands Pace, Kindergarten Classic, Crawford Farms Trot and the Red Mile Grand Circuit meet.  In addition to vast purse support, they have recently completed a state-of-the-art equine therapeutic spa, 40-stall barn, and an 8-stall horse exerciser at their central New York breeding & racing operation.

For their considerable investment in the future of the Standardbred and support of harness racing and breeding in the state of New York, the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association has awarded Crawford Farms their annual Excelsior Award.

The award will be presented on Nov. 16 at the chapter’s 56th annual awards banquet.  Somewhat surprised when they learned of the award, Michelle and Albert Crawford were humbled by the honor.

“We love this business, and we are very pleased that someone has noticed and appreciated our efforts” noted Albert, son of the late Jim Crawford who was the affable former president of the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State. 

“My wife and I are committed to breeding top horses in New York State and supporting the industry in the process.  We know that it is a considerable challenge, but we are rolling up our sleeves and eager to do the work!”

Michelle, the spark that energizes much of the daily operations added, “Every day that I am on our farm I am amazed at the work ethic and dedication that our staff contribute to our vision.  Whether we are breeding, foaling, weaning or performing racehorse rehab, they always give 110%, and for that I am very grateful.”

The farm, which was founded in 1966 by Jim and Patricia Crawford, continues to be a family affair.  The 100-acre nursery has continued to expand not only their footprint, but also their broodmare band.  Their yearling consignments to Lexington and Morrisville have continued to improve in scope and scale.

When they are not raising future harness racing stars, Michelle and Al own and operate one of the most successful healthcare lending institutions in the nation, Bankers Healthcare Group.  In fact, BHG was ranked as the 5th Fastest Growing Private Company by Inc.

Formed in 1992 from a modest group of four finance experts, BHG now employs close to 200 business professionals.

Itstmeformetofly stuns in Vernon distaff feature

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Shuffled to last at the top of the stretch, Itstimeformetofly ($27.40) found room to hook to the grandstand side in the final eighth of a mile, rallying to a 1:53 victory in the featured $7,300 conditioned pace for fillies and mares on Thursday (October 30) evening at Vernon Downs.

The six-year-old Cheyenne Rei mare secured the pocket between dueling leaders Always Flash-n (Frank Davis) and Spotlight On (John MacDonald) through a scorching :26.1 initial quarter, left to track the pair from third on the backstretch.  As Bring Them Home (Justin Huckabone) commenced a first-over bid on the entry to the far turn, Itstimeformetofly found herself hard pressed for racing room, shuffled badly through the third quarter.  Relegated to last off the corner, Fern Paquet, Jr. hooked four-wide with Itstimeformetofly, charging up alongside mid-stretch leader Thats My Dream (Jimmy Whittemore), who took the lead after kicking cover.  Itstimeformetofly continued on to take charge in the final yards, prevailing by three-quarters of a length over Thats My Dream.  Always Flash-n, also a victim of traffic trouble, re-rallied to save third after steadying hard mid-stretch.

Scott West trains Itstimeformetofly for owner Marie Roberts.

Paquet and Truman Gale each scored three wins on the evening's 10-race card.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (October 31), with the first of 11 races scheduled for 6:45 p.m. EDT.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Meadowlands Remidner: NJ-Sired Horses To Race For Bonus

                This is a reminder to all horsemen that beginning with the November 14th racing program, any New Jersey Sired horse entered in a race with a condition of non-winners of one, two, three or four pari-mutuel races will race for 60-percent more than the listed purse.  The bonus program encompasses both sexes of horse as well as gait.  The Meadowlands wanted to issue this reminder prior to the Harrisburg Mixed Sale as there will be lucrative opportunities for New Jersey Sired horses selling at Harrisburg at the upcoming Meadowlands meet.

The purse structure will be as follows:
  • Non-winners of one:           $10,000                 (plus $6,000 for NJ sired horses)
  • Non-winners of two:            $12,500                 (plus $7,500 for NJ sired horses)
  • Non-winners of three:         $15,000                 (plus $9,000 for NJ sired horses)
  • Non-winners of four:           $17,500                (plus $10,500 for NJ sired horses)
                In addition, all races with a condition of non-winners of one, two, three or four pari-mutuel races will be written with first preference for all horses that are New Jersey Sired, to ensure that New Jersey sired horses have the most opportunity to compete for this bonus program.

                Regarding the recent announcement of trainers who have achieved entry into the trainers rewards program, The Meadowlands would like to reiterate that the program does not include races classified B-1 or higher, nor does it include stakes, late closer or early closer events.  In addition, the program is limited to the period of November 14, 2014 through February 28, 2015 to ensure our most loyal trainers are able to get their horses raced when The Meadowlands entry box is in its highest demand. 

                The program was designed in conjunction with the SBOANJ with the sole purpose of rewarding those trainers who supported The Meadowlands during the period of time that it proves most difficult to fill the entry box.  Any horsemen with questions, comments or concerns should contact either The Meadowlands Race Office or the SBOANJ as any input is valued and appreciated. 


By Carol Hodes for the SBOANJ

MANALAPAN, NJ – October 29, 2014 – Angels Ransom not only won the $25,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes – Green Acres Final for three-year-old trotters but did so in stakes record time on Thursday, October 29, 2014 at Freehold Raceway.

The autumn air must agree with the gelded son of Revenue – Queen of Angels, who now has two straight wins to improve his 2014 record to five wins, three seconds and two thirds in 16 starts.

George Brennan was at the lines of Angels Ransom, who crossed the wire in 1:56.4, with a last quarter in 28.3 seconds.  It was five and a quarter lengths back to Choco Sun [Chocolatier] in second and Holiday Spirit [Chocolatier] in third.

Angels Ransom, trained by Roland Mallar, eclipsed the Green Acres record for three-year-old gelded trotters of 1:58 set by Spat One [Malabar Man] in 2002 and bested the colt mark of 1:57 established by Watch Out [Malabar Man] in 2004.

Bred and owned by Michael Andrew of Gorham, ME, Angels Ransom has banked $58,150 this year and $70,760 lifetime.

The Green Acres Final was contested as a non-wagering event prior to the card.

Cal Expo Barn Notes for Saturday

Wiseman looks to build on six-victory night 

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Fresh from making six appearances in the Cal Expo winner’s circle last Saturday night, including five of his own trainees, Steve Wiseman comes into this week’s action atop both the driver and trainer standings.

“I had a lot of horses in the right spots, so I thought it was going to be a good night,” Wiseman related. “As far as being the leading driver and trainer, that was the goal coming into the meet. I’ve never won the training title before, so that would be nice, and I’ve got a great crew to help me.”

Wild About Eagle overcame the tough No. 9 post to get the job done last weekend while carrying the banner of Kathy Plested and Mark Benvenga. “She’s awfully sharp right now and on top of her game,” her mentor said. “I think she had an advantage these first few weeks because she’d been racing while some of the others took the summer off.”

Another Wiseman trainee who got his picture taken last Saturday was the trotter Jimmy Shin, who sat a perfect pocket trip and won going away. The 10-year-old is now at the $384,000 earnings plateau.

“I claimed him here at the last meet with the idea of racing him in Minnesota. He did pretty well until the end of the meet, when I probably had him a couple of classes too high.”

Jimmy Shin had to settle for a second in his first appearance at this stand after coming from far back and getting a less than ideal journey. “He had a poor cover flow that night and would have won if I could have had him just a little closer. As bad as that trip was, everything worked out perfectly last time.”

El Azteca getting the marquee treatment

El Azteca, perfect in two starts at this meet and victorious in 15 of his last 25 trips to the post, looks to keep the momentum going in Saturday night’s Open II Trot. An 11-race program is on tap with first post set for 6:15 p.m.

Racing is now being conducted on Saturday and Sunday nights, with first post on Sunday at 4:45  p.m. Plans call for a three-night-a week schedule starting on December 26, with Friday racing being added to the mix.

El Azteca is a 5-year-old son of Panama Hanover who is owned, trained and was bred by Marco Rios and he will once again have the services of James Kennedy.

El Azteca comes into this assignment with $120,000 in his bank account and a 1:54 3/5 career standard that was established at Hoosier Park in early June. He went to the sidelines with an issue following that score, and has returned to capture both of his appearances at this meeting.

The hard-hitting California-bred got a second-over journey in his October 18 tally here while hanging a head decision on Franks Best, then did the work in first-over fashion lat week while once again prevailing by a head over Franks Best in an ultra-game decision for Rios and Kennedy.

Franks Best is another outstanding state-bred trotter who is just shy of the $200,000 earnings plateau with a 1:56 2/5 mark. The 7-year-old Armbro Scribe offspring is owned, trained and was bred by Bob Johnson and Mooney Svendsen will once again be in the sulky. In his three starts at this meet, Franks Best has two seconds and a third, beaten by a grand total of a half-length in those three outings.

The co-feature on the evening is an Open II Pace that finds Del Rio Seelster heading the cast while doing his work from the outside slot.


A reminder that Sunday racing is being added to the schedule this week, with first post set for 4:45 p.m.


Jason Settlemoir will be honored at the upcoming Awards Banquet of the Monticello Goshen Chapter USHWA on November 16.  A man who wears and has worn  many hats in the harness racing industry  will be the recipient of the chapter’s Good Guy Award.

Jason Settlemoir (USTA Photo)
At age 37 Settlemoir is already accomplished but his star continues to rise and it seems that there is nothing in the Standardbred sport that he can’t do. His list of accomplishments is amazing.

However, much of his fortune was dictated by fate. First his association with trainer/driver Terry Holton and then later with a meeting with Dave Stoltz.

When Jason was a youngster in Newark, Ohio he found out that Terry Holton moved and was on his paper route and it was his association with Holton that helped direct Settlemoir’s future.

“When Terry found out I was interested in harness racing he took me under his wing. He was like a dad to me and took me with him when he raced around the fairs and raceways and taught me all about racing. Terry had wanted me to be a catch-driver but I refused to clean stalls,” Settlemoir remembered.

“When we traveled I’d practice calling races in the car and I enjoyed it. So instead Terry helped me to call races at some of the fairs.  I got to call my first race at the Hartford (Ohio) Independent Fair.”

But vivid in his memory is the time Terry helped him to get me the announcer’s job at the West Virginia State Fair.

“I was only 13 years old at the time so I had to get my mother and grandmother to drive me there, “ he laughed.

Settlemoir graduated high school in 1995 then matriculated at Ohio State University and then at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

In 1995 he went to work at Scioto Downs for Bob Steele and Jerry Kalb and he was there for nearly 10 years where there wasn’t anything there that he didn’t do, or learn to do.

“I was the simulcast program manager, worked in the money room, worked in admissions and programs, assistant race secretary, track announcer, you name it I did it,” Settlemoir said.

Two mottos that Settlemoir said he learned and lives by are; “I will never ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t do or have not done and the other is ‘an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of gold’.

In 2005 he worked for a while at the USTA as director of advertising and it was there that he had a conversation with a customer he met at Scioto Downs Dave Stoltz; a meeting that would forever change Settlemoir’s life.

“Dave asked me how would I like to work for a good friend of his who had two race tracks in New York. He gave me his number and told me to call him.

I did. It was Jeff Gural and he asked me if I’d like to join his organization. Unfortunately it was at a time when I had many personal problems; my granddad had recently passed away and Terry Holton had advanced pancreatic cancer, I thanked Mr Gural and told him at this time I can’t.”

However it wasn’t too long after that initial phone call that Settlemoir again heard from Gural. This time Gural called him and this time they connected.

“I asked Mr. Gural  about a contract and he told me he  doesn’t do contracts. He told me to shake my hand and we’ll have an agreement,” Settlemoir explained.  “I guess you could say I’m a pretty lucky guy that I  got an opportunity to  work for him. He’s a man of his word.”

Initially Jason was heavily involved with both Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs but when Gural and his company started the New Meadowlands Settlemoir had more on his plate. And he responded to his new duties magnificently.

In 2006 he was awarded the U.S. Harness Writers Association's Lew Barasch Breakthrough Award for his work in opening up Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs and was inducted into the Upstate New York Chapter of USHWA's Hall of Fame in 2011.

Settlemoir is also simulcast director for the Little Brown Jug in Delaware, Ohio as well as the second announcer at the legendary racetrack. He is vice president of Harness Tracks of America; and past president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association and sits on the board of directors for the United States Trotting Association, and in September of this year Settlemoir was elected to the prestigious Little Brown Jug Society. He is also active in the sport as a Standardbred owner and he was appointed to the Board of Directors for American Racing and Entertainment in September 2011.

Also in 2011, he received the Tioga County United Way Appreciation Award. Jason sat on the board of directors for the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Tier Red Cross and the Tioga County United Way, where he was chair for the annual campaign drive before making his move east.

Currently he is the CEO/GM of New Meadowlands Racetrack and Winners OTW at Bayonne, N.J., and is vice president of racing, simulcast and sponsorship for American Racing and Entertainment (Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs).

He and his wife, Lori, reside in Cream Ridge, New Jersey, with their sons Jeffrey and Travis. Born in the Buckeye State, Settlemoir is an avid fan of Ohio State sports and Cleveland Browns football. He likes spending time at home with the family.


The Halloween Pace will also honor legendary grey pacer Four One One on Friday, October 31

VERNON, NY – Vernon Downs is getting into the Halloween spirit by hosting a race exclusively for grey horses on Halloween Night, Friday, October 31. The race has drawn a field of seven including local favorite The Grey Bullet. The excitement will happen in Race 8 on the 11-race program that begins at 6:45 p.m.

“Fewer than one percent of the standardbred racehorse population is grey so we had to work hard to find enough horses to put this race together, but we think it will be exciting for the fans and so perfect on Halloween night to see the grey horses racing through the stretch at Vernon Downs,” said Scott Warren, Director of Racing.

Earlier in the evening, one of the area’s favorite grey horses of all-time, named Four One One, will officially retire in a winner’s circle ceremony. The 12-year-old, owned by Robert Siemski of Utica, raced 135 times at Vernon Downs over an eight-year period. He won 16 races at Vernon Downs including his last career start this past May.

Closing Night of the 2014 Vernon Downs racing season is Saturday (November 1) with a special post time of 6:00 p.m. The 11-race card begins with a long-sleeve t-shirt giveaway, free while supplies last, and concludes with a spectacular fireworks display following the last race of the season. Vernon Downs features free admission and free general parking. For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Distaffers, freshmen headline Vernon closing night

by James Witherite, Vernon Downs racing media

Top older mares of both gaits and two-year-old trotters of both sexes will vie for over $800,000 in purses on a blockbuster closing night card this Saturday (November 1) at Vernon Downs.

Triple millionaire Anndrovette headlines the $178,000 Artiscape Mares Pace (race six), and the seven-year-old veteran will square off against seven rivals in the first leg of an all-stakes Pick 4.  Trainer PJ Fraley listed Tim Tetrick to drive the 41-time winner, and she'll line up in post 3, just outside her entrymates Krispy Apple (Brett Miller) and Shelliscape (John Campbell).  Double millionaire Rocklamation also figures to be among the standouts, having won the Lady Liberty and the Golden Girls at the Meadowlands this summer.  Yannick Gingras is listed to drive the six-year-old for trainer Ron Burke.  In all, the Artiscape field boasts 200 career wins, along with combined earnings in excess of $11.9 million.

Races seven and eight are the culmination of the Kindergarten Classic series, with nine two-year-old trotting colts and geldings competing for a $240,500 purse in the seventh race.  Indiana standout Airman Batten (Marcus Miller, post 1) has won 10 of 13 career races, and the Erv Miller-trained Swan for All colt figures to be prominent along with the Jimmy Takter-trained French Laundry (Yannick Gingras, post 5).  The son of Muscles Yankee has won five of his nine career races, taking a 1:54.4 lifetime mark in his Kindergarten preliminary at the Red Mile on September 18.

Freshman fillies contest a $250,000 purse in the eighth race, with five-time winner Bee the Queen (Brian Sears, post 9) coming in off multiple Kindergarten preliminary wins.  While she consistently shows speed, the George Ducharme-trained daughter of Donato Hanover has a number of four-time winners lining up to her inside, including Allerage Star (Corey Callahan, post 1), Josie's Joy (Tim Tetrick, post 5), Lady Clarabella (David Miller, post 6), and Sweet Thing (Charlie Norris, post 8).

Ten top distaff trotters square off in the $178,000 Muscle Hill, carded as race nine on the 11-race program.  Bee a Magician, fresh off her third-place finish to Natural Herbie and Commander Crowe in the Yonkers International Trot Preview, has drawn post 9 in the full field.  Usual driver Brian Sears is listed to drive the 30-time winner for trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman.  The other millionaire in the field is 27-time winner Maven (post 7), making her debut from the Ron Burke stable off a sharp 1:54 qualifier at Pocono.  Yannick Gingras has been nominated to retain his drive aboard the five-year-old Glidemaster mare.

The closing night card is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. EDT start time, with a long-sleeve T-shirt giveaway to commence an hour earlier (while supplies last).  A fireworks display over the Central New York Sky will take place following the evening's final race.

Sunday racing now added to Cal Expo schedule

Beginning this week, the trotters and pacers will be in action on Saturday and Sunday nights at Cal Expo. First post for the Sunday programs will be 4:45 Pacific.

Plans then call for a three-night-a-week schedule beginning on December 26, with Friday racing added to the mix. The Watch and Wager LLC meet runs through May 3. 

Meadowlands Announces Trainers in Rewards Program

In March of this year, The Meadowlands announced that it will begin keeping track of trainer’s entries with the purpose of implementing a rewards program which would go into effect on November 14th of this year.  In conjunction with the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, The Meadowlands has identified the following trainers as earning entrance into the Rewards Program.  These names are strictly alphabetical as each of these trainers shares equal benefits when entering their horses to race at The Meadowlands.

1.       Eric Abbatiello
2.       Tony Alagna
3.       Ronald Burke
4.       Mark Capone
5.       Ron Coyne Jr.
6.       Jonas Czernyson
7.       Nikolas Drennan
8.       Steve Elliot
9.       Mark Ford
10.   Mark Harder
11.   Joseph Holloway
12.   Richard Johnson
13.   Douglas Lewis
14.   Joseph Martin
15.   Julie Miller
16.   Larry Remmen
17.   Christopher Ryder
18.   Mark Silva
19.   Jeffrey Smith
20.   Ake Svanstedt
21.   Jimmy Takter
22.   Linda Toscano

The trainers listed above achieved entry in the program by meeting one of two criteria:

1)       Accumulating over 60 starts at The Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014 or
2)       Having at least 20 starts at The Meadowlands from March 28, 2014 through August 2, 2014 where the trainer’s horses raced at The Meadowlands more than all other tracks combined over that period of time.
“I want to thank The Meadowlands for implementing this program,” said SBOANJ President Thomas Luchento. “I am proud of the position they have taken to reward all trainers that remain steadfast in their conviction that The Meadowlands is the best place to race in the world.  This program rewards loyalty, and the SBOANJ is a proud supporter of that.”

“I appreciate the loyalty these trainers have shown to The Meadowlands throughout this past racing season,” said Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural.  “I am happy that they will be given every opportunity to get all of their horses raced at The Meadowlands when we reopen on November 14th.  Hopefully this information will prove beneficial to all the owners and trainers that are heading to Harrisburg for the upcoming Standardbred Mixed Sale.”

The rewards program will be applied to overnight races that are classified as B-2 or below as well as all non-winners of 1, 2, 3 or 4 pari-mutuel races.  The program does not apply to early or late closers, nor does it apply to stakes events.  Any horsemen with questions can contact The Meadowlands Race Office or the SBOANJ.


MONTICELLO NY---Beginning Monday, November 3 and continuing throughout the remainder of the year all post times at Monticello Raceway will be at 12:25p.m.

“With the change to Daylight Savings Time we will begin our racing programs one-half hour earlier the before,” noted assistant general manager of racing and facilities, Shawn Wiles.
“We annually set post times earlier during this time of the year in an effort to get our races completed during the daylight hours.”

The Sullivan County oval offers live harness racing on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27 there will be no racing.


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

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, October 28, 2014—Brian Sears won the 9,000th race of his illustrious career Tuesday night, the milestone coming The Way I Am ($9.80) in the fifth race of Yonkers Raceway’s 12-race program.

The 3-year-old Muscle Mass gelding went wire-to-wire from post position No. 3, winning the mile-and-one-sixteenth event trot by 8¼ lengths in 2:05.4.

Sears began his work night needing two wins for the latest plateau. He took the $11,000 pacing opener with Wayward Son ($7.80), pacing the mile-and-one-sixteenth in 1:59.2.

“It’s great to win (No. 9,000) here, because Yonkers Raceway is my home now,” Sears said, congratulatory sign in tow. “I’m really happy to win it for (trainer) Buzzy (Sholty), because our families have known each other for years and we grew up in the business together.” Sears is the 15th driver in harness racing history to win 9,000 races.

A 46-year-old native of  Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Sears—the Raceway’s defending driving champion---has career purse earnings in excess of $158 million. Prior to relocating his base to Westchester last season, Sears was the leading driver at Vernon Downs, Pompano, the Meadows and the Meadowlands. His escorts have made at least $10 million in purses in all but one of the past 10 full seasons.


How many harness drivers have been saluted by racetracks where they competed upon their retirement from driving? Few if any, but Catello (Cat) Manzi was. And not by one, but two, and the biggest ones in the game; The Meadowlands last summer and Yonkers Raceway         on Saturday, Oct.18.

Both racetracks responded wonderfully by inviting Cat’s family and his close friends to the salute at each, replete with dinner and cocktails for the entire groups. And at each venue a portion of the facility was set aside for “The Catman” and his well-wishers.

I, of course, went to both racetracks as did many from our family. Track managements at both tracks really outdid themselves by offering all the amenities without charge.

And at both venues the salute was highlighted with the feature race on the card named in Cat’s honor and they had him sign autographs on pictures they supplied for the attending fans in front of the winners circle after the race presentation.

I know Mr. (Tim) Rooney at Yonkers and Mr. (Jeff) Gural at the Meadowlands were appreciative of Cat’s tenure at both racing facilities. And they put their money where their heart is. Take it from me, not many would do that, but class always shows.

I’m not sure that many know that Cat that was born in Monticello on June 27, 1950, eight years to the day before Monticello Raceway had its inaugural program.

Cat grew up in nearby Liberty(NY) and comes from a long line of harness horsemen. His dad Al, and uncles, John, Sr. and Dick, became involved in the standardbred business in the spring of 1951 and the family’s second generation, which included Cat, his brother, Steve, and cousins, Ed Lohmeyer, Richard Manzi, Jr., and yours truly, all started racing at Monticello Raceway.

Cat drove his first race at the Mighty M in the fall of 1968 and by 1972  he  became the dominant force on the driving scene there. On the warm summer night of August 21, 1973 he won six races in six drives on one card, a world record at that time.

After dominating the driving colony at the Mighty M in the mid-1970’s in the fall of 1976 Cat decided to try his luck at the new mile track that opened in the swamplands in East Rutherford, NJ which became known as The Meadowlands. And from its inception “the Big M”  was, and continues to be, the  premier racing facility in North America.

Cat has been the regular pilot behind a number of record setters, including 1992 Horse of the Year Artsplace; Beat The Wheel, Pacific Fella and Hit Parade, to name a few.

Over the years  “the Catman”, as he’s referred to by his legion of fans, has also won driving titles at Liberty Bell Park, Garden State Raceway, Yonkers Raceway and Freehold Raceway, where he has garnered an incredible 18 driving titles.

He has also won a countless amount of “Classic Races” including: the Yonkers Trot, three times; the World Trotting Derby, the Cane Pace, the Driscoll Final; the Niatross; the Lady Maud; the Woodrow Wilson, the Dexter Cup ; the Hambletonian Oaks; the Breeders Crown;  the U.S Pacing Championship, twice; the William Haughton Memorial, three Hudson Filly Trots, the Sheppard Pace; and the $1.6 million North American Cup.

His career reached a pinnacle in 2002 when he was inducted into Harness Racing’s Living  Hall of Fame, the only Monticello native to receive such honor.

For the record, Cat didn’t retire completely…. he retired from driving but he still trains, currently for the Cancelliere Brothers. He finished with outstanding career totals of 14,812 driving victories and purses of $158,560,663.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Meadowlands Reminder for Breeders Crown Undercard Series

This is a reminder that The Meadowlands will be carding a Breeders Crown undercard series for three year olds when standardbred racing returns in November.

There will be four separate mini-series for 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. The conditions for these series will be horses that have not earned $100,000 in 2014. Purses for the eliminations will be $20,000, with an estimated $50,000 final. The races will include a one-time $500 starting fee.  There are over 300 horses catalogued in the upcoming Standardbred Mixed Sale at Harrisburg that meet the conditions of these four events.

The 3-year-old colt and filly trotters will compete in their eliminations on Friday (Nov. 14) with the finals to be contested on Friday (Nov. 21).

The 3-year-old colt and filly pacers have eliminations on Friday (Nov. 21) and the finals on Saturday (Nov. 29), which is the night of the TVG Free For All Championships.

All information regarding these series can be found at

In addition, there will be four separate 4-year-old open events for pacers, trotters, mare pacers and mare trotters carrying a $40,000 purse on Saturday (Nov. 22).

The condition sheet for opening weekend at The Meadowlands will be available tomorrow at

Any horsemen with questions regarding these racing opportunities should contact Director of Racing Peter Koch in The Meadowlands race office at (201) 842-5130.


In 2004 when Ted Gewertz had Windsong Legacy and Housethatruthbuilt he felt as if he was on top of the world. And he was; the harness racing world that is. Together both horses earned purses in excess $2.55 million. Windsong’s Legacy had nine wins in 12 starts while Housethatruthbuilt won 11 of her 15 races that year.

“I can’t tell you how exciting that season was and what a great time my partners and I had traveling to watch them race,” Gewertz recalled.” We won the Hambletonian with Windsongs Legacy and the Breeders Crown with Housethatruthbuilt. Wow, what a year we had.”

Scant few people have ever owned more horses than Gewertz who got involved with limited partnerships early on.

“I usually owned anywhere from twenty to sixty percent and I was lucky to be involved with top stakes horses,” he said. “And for a guy who loves to win that was right up my alley.”

Gewertz made two more trips to the Hambletonian winners circle on the prowess of Giant Victory and Deweycheatumnhowe.

“Giant Victory was one of my real favorites, too. We won the ‘91 Hambo with him but I think I had the most fun with ‘Dewey’ because we had such a great group of partners,”

Of course, the aforementioned were the cream of the crop as far as the horses Gewertz has been involved with, but make no mistake he helped pay the bills on plenty, currently 800 or so, 74 this year alone.

Originally from the South Bronx (NY) and because of his perspicacity he got a free ride to an education  starting at the Bronx H.S. of Science and on to City College of NY (CCNY)  and finally to New York University School of Law, where he was a classmate of Colin Powell.

Like many from his era Ted would spend the summers of the mid- 1950’s in the Catskills waiting tables at the hotels that brought the population out of the sweltering city. “That was before Monticello Raceway opened but later on I used to go to the races there on occasion.”

In the early 1960’s Gewertz started going to Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways three or four times a week and he became a fan of several drivers.

“There were lots of great drivers there during that era and everybody loved Sach Werner, but my all-time favorite back then was Hughie Bell.”

During those years one could find Gewertz at the Palladium (Dance Hall)  in New York City on the nights he wasn’t at the racetracks boogying to  hot Latin music.

“They call it Salsa, today but it’s really not the same as the music from my era,” he admits. “And I also liked early rhythm and blues, you know the music prior to 1955. They called it race music but it was great and hard to find on the radio.”

After he finished his schooling Ted became a lawyer, and a good one, specializing in corporate law and his firm was, and is, one of the biggest defending corporate America.

Still, harness racing bubbled under, and Ted would spend many an evening at the racetrack

I’ll tell you a funny story,” he continued. “I used to get thrown out of the box seats so many times until I found out if I owned a horse I would be OK. So I decided to buy a horse so I could sit in a box without  any harassment.”

During the ‘60’s Ted got involved in handball, an urban sport which utilizes  a “Spaldeen”, and he became an outstanding handball player. Today, at age 76, despite two hip replacements he still is playing—and winning.

“I play singles exclusively. Since I had my hips done it’s hard for me to play doubles anymore.”

But it’s not hard for Ted to go and watch his stock race.

He has a piece of over 70 horse this year and some of his better ones include; Somwherovrarainbow, Shebestingin, Thirty Two Red  Neighsay Hanover and Driving Miss Crazy , to mention a few.
But to fully understand Gewertz’s participation in harness racing one just needs to peruse a list of outstanding horses he’s been involved with. However, it is much too extensive to be included here.

Harness racing is very lucky to have a gentleman like Ted Gewertz involved. He certainly isn’t shy about investing in the industry.

Although he has many accolades in his chosen profession Ted is very proud of his Owner of the Year Award that was given to him by the US Harness Writers Association in 2004.

On Sunday, November 16,  he will add another trophy to his wall when he  will be presented  the  Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monticello- Goshen Chapter USHWA  at the scribes  56th Annual Awards Banquet which will be held at The Fountains on Sands Road in Middletown, NY.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 25, 2014—Fair assumption that if you asked Ake Svanstedt which trotter he’d win a Yonkers Raceway stakes with Saturday night, Highest Peak would not have been his answer.

Under the category of “that’s why you race ‘em,” Highest Peak skimmed the cones in the $124,590 Hudson Filly for 3-year-old distaff trotters (1:58.2). Leaving from inside her five rivals, the good fortune came about—in no small part—by both halves of the quarter-on-the-dollar favored entry making breaks.

First, it was two-time New York Sire Stakes champ Market Rally (Jim Morrill Jr.), then Avalacious (Mark MacDonald). Market Rally recovered to grab the lead away from Highest Peak after the intermission (:30, 1:00), but despite soft fractions, the tough trip would end up biting her. After a 1:29 three-quarters and a length lead into the lane, she was done.

Highest Peak slipped inside, defeating Mistresswithmuscle (Tim Tetrick) by a length-and-a-half in 1:58.2. Third went to Bambino Supreme (George Brennan), with Yoga (Brett Miller) and the misbehaving entrymates bringing up the rear.

For third choice Highest Peak, a daughter of Andover Hall  owned and trained by her driver, it’s her biggest win to date. She returned $18 (place prices were a wild $70.50 and $120) for her fifth win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $232, with no triple wagering due to the abbreviated number of wagering interests.

“She wasn’t herself at Lexington, but  we worked on a few things and she was better tonight,” assistant trainer Bernie Noren said.

The soph pacing lasses were summarily dismissed by odds-on Act Now (George Brennan, $2.40) in the $150,854 final of the Lady Maud. Moving when ready from post position No. 2, she sashayed though intervals of :28.2, :56.4, 1:24.3 and 1:53. The lead, seven lengths in and out of the final turn, was a wrapped-up 5½ lengths at the wire.

Fancy Desire (Dave Miller) was second despite being out the mile, with Beautiful Lady (Matt Kakaley), Anagada (John Campbell) and Do Your Job (Eric Carlson) settling for the remainder,.

For Act Now, a Western Ideal miss co-owned by Joseph Davino & Patrick O’Brien and trained by Nick Drennan, it was her fifth win in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $9.20, with the triple returning $30.40.

“She seemed a bit hot and was hitting the bike, so I probably went faster with her than I wanted,” Brennan said.  “She just has a lot of talent. I drove her as if she was the best, and she was.”


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 25, 2014—If there was horse who had some ‘splainin’ to do coming into Saturday night’s 59h edition of the Messenger Stakes, it was All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley). A dull effort in last week’s lone Yonkers Raceway elimination race—tiring on a soft lead and finishing fourth—certainly lessened the load on his bandwagon.

Those who stayed on the ride were rewarded, as the New York Sire Stakes champion gave nothing else a chance, winning the final jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown for 3-year-olds in a snappy 1:51.1.

Leaving from post position No. 6 (“No way I was ducking him tonight,” Kakaley said), he scorched the scenery (:26.3, :55.1, 1:23) en route to the fastest edition of the Messenger held here.

McWicked (Dave Miller), as the 1-2 favorite, was unhurried leaving into a four-hole, but never came close to the leader/winner when making his second move toward the three-quarters.  That compromised last week’s elim winner Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick), who went wide early and finished well, but not nearly well enough.

All Bets Off, up four lengths turning for home won by 2 ¾ lengths over Luck Be Withyou, with McWicked (now a seasonal millionaire) settling for third, beaten 6½ lengths. Lyonssomewhere (Brett Miller) and 133-1 shot Western Conquest (Brent Holland) earned the final two pay envelopes, with National Debt (Jason Bartlett), winner’s entrymate Forty Five Red (George Brennan) and Stevensville (Mark MacDonald) rounding out the order.   

For All Bets Off, a $7,000 (Harrisburg) son of Bettor’s Delight co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stable and Rosemary Shelswell, he returned $11.80 (third choice)  for his 11th win in 15 seasonal starts. The $250,000 payday makes him a career millionaire ($1.095,292). The exacta paid $54.50, with the triple returning $95.

“He was just flat last week (elim), and I think what Ronnie (Burke) said was correct. It was just his second race in five weeks, and it showed,” Kakaley said. “Tonight, he was the horse I’m used to driving. It’s by far the biggest win of my career.”



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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 25, 2014—Yonkers Raceway didn’t exactly hand Nuncio (John Campbell) the money Saturday night. He had to go through the obligatory Yonkers Trot compulsories, but the end result was  surprise to no one in particular.

Nuncio strolled to a 2¼-length, 1:56 win in the 60th Trot, his second Trotting Triple Crown victory of the season and Yonkers Trot No. 3 for his Hall of Fame driver.

His job made that much easier when Gural Hanover—an elimination winner last week, as was Nuncio—scratched sick, pole-inheriting Nuncio claimed this race in short order. After allowing Don Dorado (Tim Tetrick) the first lead from the far outside, Nuncio, as the puny 1-20 choice, made front.

Waltzing through a 29-second opening quarter-mile and :58.4 half,  he widened down the backside while Don Dorado broke and left the course. After a :28.4 third quarter (1:27.3), Nuncio opened to three lengths in and out of the final turn.

Though drifting through the lane, he held sway over an improved effort by Datsyuk (Charlie Norris). Resolve (Dave Miller) was third, beaten 11 lengths, with Expressive Action (Jason Bartlett) and Journey (Dan Dube) completing the cashers. Breakers King City (George Brennan) and Don Dorado rounded out the order.

For Nuncio ($2.10 to win), a $7,000 (Harrisburg) son of Andover Hall owned by Stall Tz and trained by Jimmy Takter, it was his 10th win in 15 seasonal starts. The ultra-consistent sort, who won the Kentucky Futurity before invading Yonkers, has never missed worse than second (15 wins, 10 seconds) in 25 lifetime starts ($1,758,970).

For Takter, who completed his personal 2014 Trotting Triple Crown (he drove Trixton to a win in the Hambletonian, where Nuncio was second), it was his fourth Yonkers Trot in the past six seasons.

The exacta here paid $6.40, with the triple returning $15.20.

“When you’re at this class, every horse has desire, every horse has speed and every horse has talent,” Campbell said. “What makes Nuncio so special is brings those things every start. He takes it to the next level.

“I feel sorry for those (Gural Hanover) people, not to be able to race, and it changed the complexion of the race. Regardless, I thought my horse was the one to beat.”

The 13-race handle was $1,105,936, second-highest total of the season.