by john manzi for the CKG Billings amateur driving series
Since its rebirth in the early 1980’s amateur driving has become a more integral part of the harness racing scene with each passing year and currently the sporting set help to fill race cards at many venues.
On Friday night, June 17, harness racing’s greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billing Amateur Driving Series, moved on to the Meadowlands where they provided two trotting events in eastern region action and when the contests were finalized, James “Jimmy Boy” Marshall IV and “Yankee Joe” Lee each emerged victorious in their respective divisions. Marshall won his split with I C Caviar in 1:54.4 while Lee romped home an easy winner with Captain Primeau, also in a 1:54.4 clocking.
In his contest Marshall was content to leave softly with I C Cavair and watch Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff gun Keystone Thomas to the lead in a :27.2 first quarter. But as the field approached the halfway point Marshall, sitting in fourth position behind the 3-5 favorite, moved I C Caviar, out to challenge and they trotted to the lead and played catch me if you can; and nobody could as I C Caviar coasted home a two-length winner over Keystone Thomas. Two lengths farther back was third place finisher Rocket Master, driven by the New York Yankees locker room manager, Joe Lee.
It was the third seasonal victory for I C Caviar who’s trained by Joe Hanney. The 5 year-old altered son of Malabar Millenium returned a $3.20 win mutuel. For Marshall, a fourth generation horsemen it was his fifth seasonal driving victory.
Speaking of “Yankee Joe” Lee, in the second Billings trot he took advantage of cover in the early going and then burst to the lead up the backside and made a laugher out of it when his charge, Captain Primeau, cruised home a 4-1/2 length winner over Saint Patty’s Doll and driver Dein “the Dream” Spriggs. “Jimmy Boy” Marshall took home the show dough with Doc Simon’s Dream in that contest.
Captain Primeau, a veteran 12 year old gelding by Enjoy Lavec, co-owned by Conny Svensson and Anneli Svensson, and trained by Conny Svensson, paid $15.80 for win. It was the fourth seasonal driving victory for “Yankee Joe”.
Next up for the Billings amateurs is a mid-west region contest at Scioto Downs on Friday, June 24.