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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Genuine Desire, Siegel working in concert

By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

When the sharp Genuine Desire lines up for Saturday night’s Bill Conlin Final, he’ll be gunning for his fourth win from his last six trips to the post, including two of his last three over this layout.

The sophomore son of Real Desire is owned by Rick and Marlene Thomas and George Reider, is conditioned by Reider and will be handled by David Siegel.

Genuine Desire started his recent streak with a 43-1 shocker in his Hawthorne finale last month with Tim Curtain at the controls and has recorded his last two tallies after being re-united with Siegel.

In last week’s Conlin Prep over a sloppy track, the pair made a power move to the top on the final bend and went on to a two and a half-length decision that sets them up perfectly for this assignment.

“I am glad I finally got the opportunity to get back behind Genuine Desire after his venture back to Illinois,” Siegel related after last week’s score. “Going by his record and speed ratings, there is little doubt he likes the going at Cal-Expo better.

“He is very handy and can be driven as the situation dictates, on the front, off the pace, and has the ability to two-move if needed.

“He fits the Conlin field well and hopefully we can get the right trip and get the job done for his supportive owners Rick and Marlene. I fully expect George will have him prepared for the challenge.”

Marie Hill Pace brings out distaffers

The Marie Hill Pace, a $4,400 Open II event for fillies and mares, heads the 13-race card Friday night at the Watch and Wager LLC meeting. First post is 6:10 p.m.

Lady’s Art, for driver/trainer Chip Lackey; and the Robin Clements-trained, David Siegel-driven Windsun T Bird have been assigned the outside posts in the field of seven.

The race is named for the memory of Marie Catherine Hill, a Canadian who fell in love with harness racing as a young girl and became an important author of books about participants in the sport.

She passed away on November 22 at the age of 85 in Merlin, Ore., near the residence of her daughter, Irene, after a brief illness.
Born Aug. 12, 1931, in Blacks Harbor, New Brunswick, Ms. Hill attended her first harness race at the half-mile track at St. Stephen, New Brunswick, when she was 11 years old. At 13 she wrote her first article for The Canadian Sportsman, a few paragraphs titled “Watchim on the Trot,” which was about the trotting track record holder at St. Stephen.

The story led to other articles for The Canadian Sportsman’s Christmas editions. She also wrote for The Horseman And Fair World, Hoof Beats, The Harness Horse, and Trot magazines.
Ms. Hill became one of harness racing’s most prolific historians, writing six books including: Single G: The Horse That Time Forgot; Adios: The Big Daddy of Harness Racing; Gentleman Joe-The Story of Harness Driver Joe O’Brien; Mr. Harness Racing-the Story of Delvin Miller; and The Horseman from Alberton.

In 1959 Ms. Hill moved to California, where she worked as an accountant and office manager for construction companies in the San Francisco Bay area. Her interest in harness racing, its horses and people, never waned. During the 1970s and early 1980s she bred, owned and raced horses in California, Kentucky and Indiana.

Ms. Hill became acquainted with Delvin Miller by mail when he responded to an advertisement she had run in The Horseman And Fair World in which she had asked for historical information about Single G. Miller responded, as was his habit, and thus began a lifelong friendship.

Miller subsequently asked Ms. Hill to write his biography and she delightedly agreed to the project. In 1992, when Adios was inducted into the Indiana Standardbred Hall of Fame, Ms. Hill accepted the award at Miller’s request.

In 1984, Ms. Hill nominated B C Count to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The horse’s subsequent election, which came in 1998 following a 14-year campaign on her part, brought her great satisfaction.

In 2005 Ms. Hill was honored with the Harness Racing Museum’s Pinnacle Award and in 2007 she was inducted into the Communicators’ Hall of Fame.

In addition to harness racing, Ms. Hill’s hobbies included the Civil War and watching the New York Yankees. She loved her family, friends, animals, her Catholic faith, and was a devoted mother and daughter.

In addition to her daughter, Irene (Stephen), Ms. Hill is survived by her cousin, Sheila Hurley and friend, Arlene Matheson, both of whom she called sisters; the Walker family, Hill and O’Connor cousins; and many more cousins.

Ms. Hill was an avid supporter and former board member of the Stable of Memories at The Red Mile and memorial contributions may be sent to Stable of Memories, P.O. Box 11073, Lexington, KY 40512-1073, or to Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus, P.O. Box 15368, San Francisco, CA 94115-0368, or to any animal shelter or rescue.

Kokinos Looks to Continue GSY Mastery

East Rutherford, NJ - Friday night's Meadowlands card should delight fans and horseplayers alike with full and competitive fields in many of the night's dozen races and a $47,000 carryover in the last race Jackpot Super Hi-5.

The GSY Amateur weekly leg kicks off the card where this scrappy troupe of enthusiasts have recently been unable to stop and now only hopes to contain Dr. John Kokinos and his high percentage trotting mare Ellen's Streak. That pair has won the last two of these affairs and been assigned the outside post ten on Friday as a result of their recent dominance. Ellen's Streak overcame that starting point last week converting a wide but patient steer from Kokinos for her 13th seasonal score. Jennifer Lappe owns and trains the six-year-old CR Excalibur mare who has won 30% and been on the board in 65% of her 128 career starts.

The $17,500 feature condition trot is the penultimate event on the Friday menu. It offers an evenly matched field of seven accomplished square-gaiters led by return winners Waiting On A Woman and Rock Of Cashel who take on solid shippers Watkins and B Yoyo.

The dining options are many and wagering options a plenty with several guarantees and the customary complimentary program pages for the Late Pick 4.

Post time is 7:15 p.m.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


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

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, November 29, 2016—Much has been written about the subject of commingled pools, specifically involving Yonkers Raceway and its French Connection.

               Why, you may ask, should anyone on this side of the Atlantic care? Because if you’re one of those horseplayers who has dismissed a track’The pools are too small’ and/or ‘I’m betting against myself’the French are your copains (or buddies, chums, amigos).  

Take this past Sunday (Nov. 27th) as the latest example. With real-time win and show pool commingling of the seven, French-hubbed, added-distance, overflow fields trots, the tally sheet read as such…

…more than a half-million dollars was added to the pot. European win-pool figures ranged from $23,468 to $70,619, with the earlier races getting the bulk of the attention.

The show pool range went from $16,874 to $45,002, again spiking in the earlier events.

In other words, these pools are ‘thoroughbred-esque,’ enticing to bettors of all dollar denominations.

This Sunday (Dec. 4), with its amended first post of 12 Noon (from original 11:30 AM), the first seven races are ‘French,’ so have at it. An early program file of these races accompanies, noting that changes are to be made Wednesday morning (Nov. 30th). 

Annual Toys for Tots Collection Drive at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment is holding its 13th annual Toys for Tots Collection Drive through Saturday, December 10th.

All are welcome to bring in new, unwrapped toys throughout the day and spread some magic and cheer this holiday season to a child in need. Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment will be donating all collected toys to the local Marine Corps Toys for Tots.

Since its approval to be an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps in 1995, the mission of the Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year. The program then distributes those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Live racing at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment continues this Friday and Saturday night. First race post time is 7:15 p.m.

Meadowlands 2017 Live Racing Schedule

East Rutherford, NJThe Meadowlands management is announcing that a total of 91 live harness racing dates have been approved by the New Jersey Racing Commission for the 2017 season.

Racing starts off the year with Friday and Saturday cards then picks up Thursday for seven weeks from the end of January through March 9. The weekend-only schedule then resumes through the Aug. 5 Hambletonian.

The Meadowlands will race live for two weeks on September 8-9 and 15-16.

The fall meet opens on the weekend of Nov. 17-18 and expands to three days in December.

Post times are set for 7:15 p.m. with the exceptions of July 8 (Fan Appreciation Night) and July 15 (Meadowlands Pace final) which both begin at 6:30 p.m. and the usual noon post for Hambletonian Day.

The stakes schedule will be made public following the Racing Secretary conference this weekend.  The complete calendar racing schedule is available here.

Questions should be directed to the Race Office at 201.842.5130.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Buffalo Raceway Stall Application

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Stall applications for the upcoming 2017 live harness racing season at Buffalo Raceway are now available at various sites and locations.
The applications can be obtained on the Buffalo Raceway website, at the Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association office in Batavia or by calling Buffalo Raceway Racing Secretary Tom Agosti at 716-649-1280, ext. 6234.
All stall applications must be returned no later than Friday, December 9. The barn area at Buffalo Raceway will open on Wednesday, January 4 with the first night of racing coming on Wednesday, January 11 with a 5 p.m. post. The first qualifiers of the season are tentatively slated for Saturday, January 14.
Buffalo Raceway will be celebrating its 75th season of racing in 2017. The schedule for the 90-day meet shows action on Wednesday and Friday evenings starting at 5 p.m. with Saturday nights having a 6 p.m. post. Sunday matinee racing will be added beginning on June 18 and will continue until the end of the season on July 23 with post times at 12:30 p.m.

For more information on Buffalo Raceway including the latest news, promotions, schedule and race replays, go to

Sunday, November 27, 2016

SRF to participate in parade with 25,000 spectators expected

By Fred Hudson

(November 28, 2016) - The annual Christmas in Middleburg Parade will take place Saturday, December 3rd, and, once again, the Standardbred Retirement Foundation will be representing the harness racing industry. Last year's parade brought out a record attendance of over 25,000 spectators that closed down the town of Middleburg, Virginia. Many of the town's restaurants actually ran out of food. The parade starts at 2PM following the Middleburg Hound and Hunt Review at 11AM.

The SRF's participation in the Middleburg Christmas parade under the guidance of Judy Bokman and Freddie Hudson is now in it's fourth year.

Hudson said; “When we first started participating in the parade there were only about 10,000 spectators and then the following year it grew to around 15,000 and last year it was totally unbelievable and unexpected with over 25,000 people showing up”.

Joining the SRF along with Hudson will be harness driver/trainer Mark Gray (with a sulky and horse), riders Rachel Rhodes and Michelle Graham along with racing official Cheri Collison.

Moira Fanning of the Hambletonian Society has sent gifts and brochures to pass out to the spectators and Allison Conte of the USTA has sent fan guides coloring books to also pass out. Dr. Scott Woogen, President of Virginia Harness Horseman’s Association, is working out the details of their participation.

This parade is a great way for the harness racing community to showcase it's sport to a large, influential crowd that, mostly, have no familiarity of or have never seen a harness race. Many celebrities participate in the parade including NFL Hall of Famers Sam Huff, Sonny Jergensen and John Riggins.

For more information please contact Freddie Hudson 631-896-9838 or email


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

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 27, 2016—Favored Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett, $6.20) atoned for last week’s behave Sunday morning, winning Yonkers Raceway’s mile-and-a-quarter, $56,000 Open Handicap Trot.

In play early (actually, everyone was, since post time was 11:12 AM) from post position No. 7, ‘Hemi’ had to wait before making the lead. He did so around Centurion ATM (Mark MacDonald) just after a :28.1 opening quarter-mile.

Tweet Me (Pat Lachance) was a loose third, while Classical Annie (George Brennan) broke after leaving. Hemi Seelster then rated a :57.4 half-mile and 1:27.2 three-quarters as last week’s upsetter, Not Afraid (Dan Dube), moved from fourth.

That one couldn’t get close, while a second-up Tornado Tim (catch-driver Jeff Gregory) jumped it off. Hemi Seelster picked it up, getting the mile in 1:55.4 and widening to 2¼ lengths in and out of the final turn.

He held Centurion ATM at bay, winning by a neck in 2:24.2..a tick faster than his two-week-old local record for this division/distance. Tweet Me was a non-threatening third, easily holding off minor payees Wind of the North (Brian Sears) and Not Afraid.

For Hemi Seelster, a 4-year-old Holiday Road gelding co-owned by Richard Lombardo, Carl Atley & Robert LeBlanc and trained by Tom Milici, it was his ninth win in 21 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $24.20, with the triple (three wagering choices in order) returning $76.

Sunday’s ‘New York, New York Double’ returned $38 for every correct ‘double nickel’ dollar combination of 5 (Boomerang Toy-Aqueduct’s 3rd race) and 5 (Time Will Tell All-Yonkers’ 6th race). The total pool was $3,505.  

Mr Hasani N upsets in Saturday Big M feature

East Rutherford, N.J. – While odds-on favorite Ashley’s Husband failed to make any impression by way of his first-over bid in Saturday (November 26) night’s $17,500 featured pacing event at The Meadowlands, the Muscara Racing Trust’s Mr Hasani N ($23.20) took full advantage of a clear pocket trip to just gather in pacesetter Bullet Bob for a 1:50.3 upset score.

Andy McCarthy nestled the 8-year-old Christian Cullen gelding in the pocket behind Bullet Bob (Scott Zeron) on the first turn, and the pair drafted through early splits of :27.3 and :56.2 before the pace picked up. Mr Hasani N kept up strongly with the accelerating Bullet Bob through a :27.1 third sectional while Ashley’s Husband (Vinny Ginsburg) only could muster gradual uncovered gains from his midpack stalking spot. In mid-stretch, Mr Hasani N switched off the pegs and pushed to the fore entirely at will, using a :26.3 last quarter to defeat Bullet Bob by half a length. Ashley’s Husband refused to regress in the straight and managed third place.

Darran Cassar trains Mr Hasani N, now a 39-time winner.

In the night’s $17,500 “Dash for the G-Notes” final for first-level pacers, Stimulus Plan ($10.20) made all the pace and dueled gamely to repel a strong first-over challenge from even-money favorite Card Shock (David Miller) for a 1:52 triumph. Vinny Ginsburg drove the 6-year-old Western Ideal gelding for trainer Robert Ginsburg, Jr.

Total handle for Saturday’s 13-race program was $2,196,939. As the last-race 20¢ Jackpot Super High Five was not hit by a single player, the carryover mounts to $46,999 heading to next Friday’s card. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 26, 2016—We can’t vouch for the ‘bright,’ but there’s no disputing the ‘early,’ with Yonkers Raceway returning from its Thanksgiving break Sunday morning at 10 minutes past 11.

The 11-race program features the first seven races as ‘French’ trots, all with overflow fields at the mile-and-a-quarter distance.

The $56,000 Open Handicap Trots goes as the opener, with Not Afraid (Dan Dube), off last week’s 18-1 upset, starting from post position No. 9 in the second tier.   

Sunday’s earlier-than-usual start does amend the ‘New York, New York Double’ a bit, using Yonkers’ sixth race (post time 1:40 PM) as the back end instead the fifth race. The gimmick begins with Aqueduct’s third race (post time 1:18 PM).

This past Sunday’s two-track, two-breed double was scrapped due to Aqueduct’s high-wind cancellation, though it’s scheduled to be in play three more times (this Sunday, Dec. 4, Dec. 18) this season (this week’s program pages accompany).

Speaking of Dec. 4, Yonkers’ first post that day is 11:30 AM.

Inittowinafortune bounces back in Big M distaff

East Rutherford, N.J. – Inittowinafortune ($5.00) seized command early and never looked back in Friday (November 25) evening’s top distaff pace at The Meadowlands, using a powerful :54.2 back half to evade her eight rivals in the $17,500 feature by 2-3/4 lengths.

Corey Callahan wasted no time with the 6-year-old daughter of Cams Fortune, putting her in play and clearing the lead just upon entering the first turn. Inittowinafortune made every call a winning one, facing no pressure at all through sectionals of :27 and :55.3 before edging away from a mild first-over challenge from Windsun Glory (Joe Bongiorno) in the final five-sixteenths of the mile. Inittowinafortune sprinted off at first asking, and she maintained clearance on the field while taken in hand for the last sixteenth of her 1:50 triumph. Windsun Glory dueled down pocket rival Better Said (Brett Miller) in upper stretch to secure a clear runner-up spot, while Shutthefrontdoor (Scott Zeron) charged down the grandstand side from the tail of the field to just nab Delightful Dragon (David Miller) for third.

Michael Russo trains 34-time winner Inittowinafortune for Michael Pagonas. The win was her second of the season, and just two-fifths of a second shy of her lifetime best.

Pick 5 yields hefty payday

While two of five favorites prevailed in the night’s 50¢ Pick 5 sequence, mid-price winners Big Expense ($25.80, Kyle Husted) and Young American ($15.00, Kyle DiBenedetto) in the third and fourth races respectively set up for a carryover situation should any horse save odds-on favorite Opulent Yankee prevail in the closing leg. As Opulent Yankee ($3.40, Andy Miller) indeed converted in a dominant 1:54 performance, successful players ultimately earned $8,870.20 on the wager which attracted a total pool of $41,754.

Total handle for the 12-race card was $2,179,769. First post for Saturday (November 26) evening’s 13-race program at the Big M is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Eastern, and the closing race 20¢ Jackpot Super High Five carryover mounts to $44,213.23.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Ashley’s Husband seeks repeat win in Big M feature

by James Witherite, Meadowlands racing media

East Rutherford, N.J. – Fresh off a resounding 1:51 win two weeks ago, Michael Polansky’s Ashley’s Husband has been installed the 5-2 morning line favorite in Saturday (November 26) evening’s $17,500 featured top-level pacing event at The Meadowlands, but he’ll face his toughest test to date this fall.

The 29-time winner used a three-wide push off live cover to defeat Hillbilly Hanover and El Bloombito by 2-1/4 lengths on November 12. Vinny Ginsburg once again will drive the Kyle Spagnola trainee from post 6, but the competition shapes up to be markedly tougher for the 6-year-old gelded son of Henry Clay. Ashley’s Husband will square off against a stakes contender and a pair of winners in their most recent starts among the field of eight to do battle in the night’s 11th of 13 races.

Ron Burke trainee Matrix of Luck returns to action after a third-place finish in the $220,000 Indiana Sire Stakes Super Final and a runner-up effort behind More Dragon in a $35,700 Circle City event last month. The 3-year-old Rockin Image colt has been installed as the 3-1 second choice in his foray into unrestricted competition, and Joe Bongiorno will handle the driving duties from post 2.

Mr Hasani N and Bullet Bob enter the race directly off pillar-to-post wins in their most recent efforts. Mr Hasani N invades from Harrah’s Philadelphia after defeating similar company twice in his last three starts, most recently springing a 13-1 upset while lasting on the lead. Andy McCarthy once again drives the 38-time winner for Darran Cassar, and the pair will start from post 4 ast the 9-2 third choice. Bullet Bob (5-1, post 3) rises after a stout effort to stave off Moonwriter in 1:51.3 last week, and Scott Zeron will take over the driving duties on the 32-time winner for trainer Mark Harder.

A $17,500 “Dash for the G-Notes” for first-level conditioned pacers shares the Saturday spotlight, with a full field of ten lining up for the night’s seventh race after leading a quintet of preliminary events last week. Return to Sender N (9-2, Brett Miller, post 3), Card Shock (7-2, David Miller, post 4), Rancousy (8-1, Bongiorno, post 5), Stimulus Plan (8-1, Ginsburg, post 7), and Classic American N (10-1, Steve Smith, post 10) all seek to sweep the mini-series following their success in the preliminary round.

Fans on-track on Saturday can win a gift card to a major department store, with twenty-one individual gift cards totaling $1,500. Post time for the first of 13 dashes is slated for 7:15 p.m. Eastern.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cal Expo Saturday Advance

Chip Lackey maintains driving ambition
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Chip Lackey comes into this week’s action with 3,524 wins and over $15 million in earnings, and the 64-year-old pilot has been adding nicely to those totals of late.

“It’s been a good year,” Lackey related. “I had to make a decision after the meet closed here last spring whether I was going to Minnesota or Chicago, and I decided on Chicago because I knew a good farm where I could take my horses.”

Lackey explained that for several years he stayed here during the break in racing to take care of his ill mother, who passed away in September of 2014. He spent last year’s “summer vacation” in Pennsylvania and had a very good session at Hawthorne this summer.

“I don’t want this to come off the wrong way, but I’ve always taken care of myself and have confidence in my skills,” Chip explained. “I took four horses when I went to Chicago and they did well. I was very pleasantly surprised with the way the meet went.”

In addition to driving as much as possible, Lackey has a half-dozen performers under his care here and is due to have some more ship in shortly from Indiana. “I still love it,” he added.


Now that Thanksgiving is over, how about feasting on the two reduced 16 percent takeout wagers offered each night on the trotting and pacing events here at Cal Expo.

The 50-cent Pick 5 is decided on the first five races of the evening, while the 20-cent Pick 4 will be conducted on Races 8 through 11 on Saturday’s program.  Jump right in, the pool is fine.

Open Pace brings out Windsong Jack

Windsong Jack, nailed on the wire in his most recent appearance at the top rung after carving out all the fractions, heads the cast for Saturday night’s $5,500 Open Pace.

The feature will go as the third on a 12-race that is conducted by Watch and Watch LLC and will get underway at 6:10 p.m.

A 6-year-old son of Santanna Blue Chip out of the Million Dollar Cam mare Milliondollarsmile, Windsong Jack is owned by Little Bapa LLC, takes his lessons from Gene Vallandingham and will once again have Mooney Svendsen in the sulky.

The dark-hued performer comes into this assignment with $624,000 in his bank account and a sparkling 1:49 2/5 mark that was established two years ago. He was making his first start since July when he suited up here on November 12 with a pair of solid qualifiers under his belt.

Sent off the 4-5 favorite that night, Windsong Jack set all the pace in that affair and was collared on the wire by Just Bettor, who will not be in the cast this time around. He will leave from the No. 3 post in the compact cast.

Barbarian was third behind Just Bettor and Windsong Jack in the most recent Open and looms large for owner Robert Orr, trainer Sparky Clarke and pilot Tony Succarotte. He was an impressive winner here opening weekend off a stalking journey and he has the No. 2 slot this weekend.

The field is completed by Stable Eyes, who leaves from the cozy rail slot for driver/trainer Tim Clevenger; American Venture, who calls the George Reider barn his home; and the James Kennedy reined-and-trained I’m An Athlete, who is back up in class after a victory last week.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cal Expo Friday Advance

Kennedy’s tracking tactics net three-bagger
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

James Kennedy recorded a consecutive driving hat trick here last Friday, guiding his own trainee I’m An Athlete to victory in the Open II pace, followed by a score behind Scooters Lady and then completing the triple with The Bearded Lady in the featured Annette Funicello Final.

Interestingly, all three wins came from a tracking journey and each race saw Kennedy coming away at the end while rewarding the chalkplayers on each occasion.

I’m An Athlete races for Ron Rettig-Zeucchi and was getting come class relief after racing in the Open I in his previous three outings here; Scooter Lady is owned and trained by Marco Rios and was graduating in her eighth start; while The Bearded Lady put in her patented late move to prove clearly best in the Funicello at 60 cents on the dollar.

“I’ve had I’m An Athlete for two years now and while it helped to get some class relief, he went a real strong mile. It should give him some confidence when we move back up to the top level.

“I’d only driven Scooters Lady once before and she gave me a real good finish that night, so I thought we had a great chance with the right trip. It worked out for her to be second over and she delivered.”

Kennedy kept the momentum going with The Bearded Lady in the evening’s feature while making it two in the row with the daughter of Mach Tree. “Let’s just say she’s unique, because she is very mouthy and needs the softest touch possible.

“If you noticed, I kept her off the gate so she would be able to relax, because she isn’t nearly as good on the front end. She gave me another strong finish and was pretty impressive.”

Flameon, Silverlode battle in main event

Flameon and Silverlode, who have been trading punches at the head of the class, get another chance to settle the score in Friday night’s featured $6,000 Open Trot.

A 13-race card will be presented under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The headliner will go as the third event on the evening.

Flameon and Silverlode have been assigned the outside two posts in the field of six, respectively, with Chip Lackey once again guiding the former while Silverlode will again have the services of Luke Plano.

The hard-hitting pair have met twice at this young stand, with Silverlode going coast-to-coast in the October 29 Open and holding safe by a head, while Flameon prevailed by a neck after a first-over trip in the most recent top dance two weeks ago.

Flameon is a 6-year-old son of Angus Hall who is owned by Mark Anderson and hails from the Gordie Graham barn, while Silverlode is Desomer Stables homebred daughter of British Sterling.

Rounding out the field, from the rail out, are the Kennedy Lindsey-conditioned Kickinitwithkohler; The Lehigh Legend from the Gene Vallandingham shedrow; the Sparky Clarke-trained Zoraze; and Windsun Galaxie, who takes his lessons from Lino Pacheco.


There are two wagers here each night that come with a reduced 16 percent takeout rate. They are the 50-cent Pick 5, which is conducted on the first five races of the night; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which is decided on races 9 through 12 on Friday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pacing Mares Top Friday Meadowlands Feature

East Rutherford, NJ - The Meadowlands weekend racing picks up on Friday evening with a dozen solid overnight events presented for your pari-mutuel pleasure.

Friday's card is the standard fare of pacing mares, trotters and a single division of the GSY amateur series.

The twin $17,500 features are the mare condition pace in race six and the G-Note trotting final in the seventh.

Inittowinafortune and Delightful Dragon, a pair of mares that do their best work over the mile oval,  are among the top contenders in the sixth.

Inittowinafortune lost a heartbreaker last week, nailed in the shadow of the wire after Corey Callahan had urged her to an open stretch lead. Mike Russo trains the career winner of more than $600,000 for owner Michael Pagonas.

Delightful Dragon, formerly a Grand Circuit winner having annexed the 2013 Three Diamonds at The Meadowlands, is reunited with David Miller who was aboard for that win. That and the return to the mile oval may be enough to overcome her assigned outside post. Delightful Dragon will eclipse the half million dollar mark in career earnings for owner / trainer Noel Daley with a good check on Friday.

David Miller also has a leading contender in the G-Note final in Midfield Magic, a short priced 1:54.2 winner in last week's elim. Jody Reidel trains Midfield Magic, another with ample back class, for Super Mile, LLC.

The lead promotion is the popular Black Friday Gift Card Sweepstakes where $1,500 in major department store cards will be meted out after races 3-10.

Post time is 7:15 p.m.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


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

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 20, 2016—After nearly doing it with a 73-1 number a race earlier, driver Jordan Stratton won his 3,000th career race Sunday afternoon.

Stratton teamed with Bingo Queen ($7.70) for a powerful, first-up Yonkers Raceway victory in the $21,600, second-race trot. The pair negotiated the mile-and-a-quarter distance in 2:29 en route to a 2¾-length win.

            Stratton nearly blew up the tote board in the late-morning opener, missing a hard-charging head in the featured Open Handicap Trot.

“I appreciate the number, probably more than my family does,” Stratton said. Then, in a rather bold assumption, he offered that “they love me anyway.”

The affable 29-year-old Stratton, regular chauffeur of George Morton Levy Series winner Bit of a Legend N, was joined in the winner’s circle presentation by his brother, Cory, a pretty fair horseman in his own right.

Jordan Stratton has earned $45 million in purses in a career which began in 2006. His 225 wins place him fifth in this season’s local driver standings.


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

YONKERS, NY, Sunday, November 20, 2016—Not Afraid (Dan Dube, $38.20) led the longshot legion Sunday morning, winning Yonkers Raceway’s mile-and-a-quarter, $56,000 Open Handicap Trot.

Away alertly from post position No. 3 for his 11:30 AM local time road test, Not Afraid then saw an interesting floor show develop. Centurion ATM (Steve Smith) made the next lead before yielding to a wide-early Hemi Seelster (Jason Bartlett).

That one found front before a :28.2 opening quarter-mile.

Then came 4-5 fave Bee a Magician (Brian Sears), even wider early and parked two turns before grabbing the baton after a :56.4 half. An antsy ‘Hemi’ wanted to reclaim his turf, but was rebuffed and eventually broke in a retreating pocket.

However, the $4 million lass Bee a Magician had been sufficiently softened up before a 1:26,4 three-quarters, as Not Afraid moved with purpose from fourth. That one went up and over and, after a 1:56.2 mile station, owned a 2½-length lead into the lane.  

Not Afraid held off a charging, 73-1 Springbank Sam N (Jordan Stratton) by a head in 2:25.4 for the added distance. Tweet Me (Pat Lachance) and her 149-1 self rallied for third, with Centurion ATM and Dweycolorintheline (Mark MacDonald) settling for the minors. Bee a Magician tired badly to finish eighth—beating just a pair of misbehavers—her first non-payday since she was sixth in the 2015 Yonkers International Trot.  

For fourth choice Not Afraid, a 7-year-old S J’s Caviar gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owners the missus Christina, John Fielding and Goran Anderberg, it was his seventh win in 30 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $494.50, with the triple (first two finishers and ALL) returning $1,073.

As an aside, Sunday’s edition of the ‘New York, New York Double’ was scratched after Aqueduct cancelled its card. The gimmick is scheduled to return next  Sunday, Nov. 27th, with Yonkers’ first post at 11:10 AM.    


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, November 19, 2016—The Real One (Pat Lachance, $8.70) Etch-a-Sketched his name into Yonkers Raceway’s annals, setting an all-age track record in winning Saturday night’s $45,000 Open Handicap Pace.

Sitting chilly from post position No. 4, The Real One watched a pole-sitter Melmerby Beach (Tyler Buter) took no prisoners, as in early fractions of :26.4 and :55.1.

Rank outsider Santa Fe Beachboy (Brent Holland) was pocketed and slight 2-1 choice First Class Horse (Jason Bartlett) moved from third. That one went up and over a non-resistant ‘Melmerby’ right after the 1:22.1 three-quarters.

The Real One was perched behind that move as First Class Horse opened a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane. The stalker ducked in and whipped his tow by a neck in 1:50 flat, a tick faster than the previous Westchester standard.

That mile unceremoniously knocked a quintet—Crombie A, Forty Five Red, Limelight Beach, Go Daddy Go and Americanprimetime—out of the record books.

Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton) wound up a best-of-the-rest third—beaten 4¼ lengths—with Take it Back Terry (George Brennan) and Santa Fe Beachboy rounding out the payees  

For third choice The Real One, a 6-year-old Mach Three trained by his driver for owner Helene Filion, it was his eighth win in 30 seasonal starts (career earnings past $700,000). The exacta paid $62, the triple returned $215 and the superfecta paid $706.

“That’s his trip,” Lachance said. “He chases other horses. Melmerby Beach did all the dirty work and we showed up at the end.”

Stratton’s two-win night moved him within one of 3,000 career victories.

No one took down Saturday night’s Pick 5 wager, so Sunday morning’s gimmick (first post 11:30 AM) begins with a carryover of $2,043.93 (50-cent base wager, races 6 through 10).

Favorites upended in Big M features

East Rutherford, N.J. – Favorites came up short in both the featured trotting and pacing events on Saturday (November 19) evening at The Meadowlands, as Waiting On a Woman ($22.00) and Bullet Bob ($15.20) went on to score minor upsets on the evening’s 11-race card.

In the $13,000 trotting feature, carded as race two, 7-5 favorite Rock of Cashel (Andy Miller) used a bold middle move to engage Aldebaran Eagle (Jim Meittinis) through the far turn after stalking early sectionals of :28.1 and :57.1. Despite steady first-over gains to take charge from Aldebaran Eagle into a :28.4 third quarter and wear him down in upper stretch, Joe Bongiorno found clearance to slide second-over with Waiting On a Woman off the far turn and narrowly chase down Rock of Cashel in the last yards of a 1:53.4 mile. Aldebaran Eagle held third despite tiring, while 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share (Victor Kirby) stayed on for fourth.

Kyle Spagnola trains the 8-year-old Northern Bailey gelding for Michael Polansky. Waiting On a Woman’s sixth seasonal win increases his career tally to 57 victories. For runner-up Rock of Cashel, it was his fourth straight second-place finish in the class and course.

While Waiting On a Woman sprung his upset in the featured trot from just off the pace, Bullet Bob captured the night’s $14,000 upper-level pace (race 7) in front-end fashion. Victor Kirby sought the early lead with the 7-year-old Tell All gelding and never looked back, rating a :56.3 first half mile before repelling a stiff first-over challenge from Moonwriter (Bongiorno) which lasted nearly the entirety of a :55 closing half mile. Bullet Bob rose well to pressure, holding sway by half a length in 1:51.3 for his seventh seasonal win and the 32nd of his career. Betting Exchange (Andy Miller) emerged out of traffic to save third.

Mark Harder trains Fox Hollow Farm homebred Bullet Bob.

Live racing returns to the Big M on Friday (November 25) evening, with a carryover of $40,679.67 heading to the last-race 20¢ Jackpot Super High 5. First post is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Eastern time.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (November 19, 2016) – Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Meadowlands will conduct a double-draw on Monday, November 21 for the races on Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26.

Scratch time for Friday’s races will be Tuesday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. and scratch time for Saturday’s races will be Wednesday, November 23 at 10:00 a.m.

The weekend’s condition sheet can be viewed here.

For more information, please visit

Tessa Seelster reaches at odds-on in featured distaff

East Rutherford, N.J. -- After patiently tracking an exacting pace, odds-on favorite Tessa Seelster ($3.00) was able to chase down pocket rival Inittowinafortune to capture Friday's (November 18) featured $17,500 top-level distaff pace at The Meadowlands.

Tessa Seelster was anxious to move forward when the gates folded in, but Yannick Gingras was able to wrangle the 4-year-old daughter of Shadow Play into a tracking spot behind pacesetter Nat a Virgin (David Miller) and the pocket-sitting Inittowinafortune (Corey Callahan) through early splits of :26.3 and :53.4. With five-sixteenths to go, Tessa Seelster angled second-over behind Inittowinafortune, who powered clear of a taxed Nat a Virgin approaching head-stretch. While Inittowinafortune edged away by nearly four lengths in upper stretch, she too began to tire in the final sixteenth, just nosed out in the last yards of a 1:50 mile by Tessa Seelster. Icommandmyspirit (Jim Marohn, Jr.) rallied belatedly to save third, 2-3/4 lengths in arrears of the top pair.

Ron Burke trains Tessa Seelster for the Burke Racing Stable, the Weaver Bruscemi partnership, and Jonathan Newman.

Always B Miki retired in trackside ceremony

World champion Always B Miki made one final visit to the Big M winner's enclosure for a special retirement ceremony after he capped his career with a resounding win in the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Pace last weekend. The fastest Standardbred to ever set foot on a racetrack concluded his career with 30 wins in 53 career starts, over $2.7 million in earnings, and a career mark of 1:46 taken at the Red Mile in October. Always B Miki will transition from the Jimmy Takter stable to assume stud duty at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania.

Live racing returns to The Meadowlands with an 11-race card slated for Saturday (November 19) evening, and a last-race Jackpot Super Hi-5 carryover of $38,181.74. Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern.


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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, November 18, 2016—A ‘four-peating’ Krispy Apple (Jason Bartlett, $4.10) just lasted Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $45,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace.

The eight-hole-assigned favorite left around second choice Mach it a Par (Brian Sears), then negotiated her eight furlongs in :27, :56.2, 1:24.4 and 1:52.4. Drifting a bit through the lane, she did hold off a pair to her inside, Mach it a Par and lone filly Lispatty (Mark MacDonald).

The margin over the former was scant nose, while the latter missed by three-quarters of a length. Two Kiwis—Glenferie Bronte N (Jordan Stratton) and Jungle Genie N (Brent Holland)—settled for the remainder.

For Krispy Apple, an 8-year-old daughter of Western Ideal co-owned by Bamond Racing and Joseph Davino and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr., it was her 10th win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $12.60, the triple (three wagering choices in order) returned $32 and the superfecta paid $230.

Special props for this win, the 50th of Krispy Apple’s $1.8 million career.

“She had some health issues toward the middle of the season and she wasn’t herself, but she’s had her legs back under her lately and she’s been the Krispy Apple of old,” Bartlett said. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Market Share, Rock of Cashel meet again at Big M

East Rutherford, N.J. – Market Share, the 2012 Hambletonian winner, squares off against Rock of Cashel and five others in Saturday (November 19) night’s top trot at The Meadowlands. The $13,000 conditioned event is carded as the second of 11 races on the evening’s program.

The 27-time winner boasts over $3.7 million in career earnings, and enters the race off a third-place effort behind Mambo Lindy in a similar event last week. As regular driver Tim Tetrick will be at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack for the Fall Final Four, Victor Kirby picks up the assignment for trainer Linda Toscano. While Market Share leads the field in terms of star power, Mark Harder trainee Rock of Cashel has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite following a pair of runner-up finishes at this level. Andy Miller drives the 6-year-old entire, who shows ability to threaten from on or off the pace alike.

Among the five to square off against the marquee pair is Hoosier invader Double A Cash Hall, who earned minor placings in Indiana stakes events and invitational races alike. Veteran trainer Todd Buter takes over the conditioning duties for fellow Michigander Scott Galloway, and Greg Merton will drive the 3-1 second choice.

The evening’s top conditioned pacing event carries a $14,000 purse, and is carded as race seven. Betting Exchange, a standout on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last summer, has been installed as the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite in the wide-open affair following a 1:50.4 effort in defeat to Stay Up Late at the same level two starts back. Andy Miller drives the son of Bettor’s Delight for trainer Tom Fanning.

As usual, a combined $105,000 in guaranteed Pick 4 and Pick 5 pools await players on- and off-track alike. Fans on course will receive 2017 wall calendars featuring the work of Meadowlands photographer Michael Lisa, while supplies last. Post time is slated for 7:15 p.m. Eastern.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Saturday Cal Expo Advance

Andy Arsenault making himself right at home
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Andy Arsenault is one of the new faces on the scene here at Cal Expo, bringing down a small string from Canada while also hoping to do his share of catch-driving.

The 50-year-old native of Sudbury, Ontario was born into the game and knew at an early age that he wanted to make the trotters and pacers his profession. “The half-mile track at Sudbury was being built at about the same time I was born, and my father did a little bit of everything there, including driving and training for the owner of the track,” Arsenault related.

“I can remember walking hots when I was very young and it was always my passion. By the time I was finishing school, the racetrack was definitely more on my mind than the studies. It didn’t help that the school was on a hill overlooking the track.”

Andy drove his first winner in 1988 when he guided a pacer named Holridge Millie to victory at the former Cloverdale Raceway and has made his share of winner’s circle appearances in the interim in the Great White North.

Andy credits his father and top Canadian horsemen Bill Davis with giving a great education, and it was for Davis that he recorded his most memorable victory.

“I was driving the weakest part of a three-horse entry for Bill, and after going to the front I got passed by both the stablemates and eventually every other horse in the field,” he recalled. “We ended up circling the field to win, and that one was especially satisfying.”

Arsenault explained that he has been thinking about coming down to Cal Expo for several years, “but just couldn’t pull the trigger” until recently when Quentin Schneider convinced him to give California a try. “So far the people have been great,” he added.

Lodi Dorian Blues headlines featured Trot

Lodi Dorian Blues, who had has the unfortunate task of trying to overhaul Flameon and Silverlode in his two appearances at the meet, gets some class relief Saturday night  in the featured $4,400 Open II Trot.

There is also an $5,000 Open II pacing event for fillies and mares on the program and Hare to Eternity is likewise dropping in class in that affair after chasing home the top males on the grounds in last week’s clash at the head of the class

Twelve races are set to be decided Saturday and first post for the Watch and Wager LLC program is 6:10 p.m. The featured Trot goes as the second event and the distaff Pace is third third contest on the evening.

Both Lodi Dorian Blues and Hare to Eternity are conditioned by Kathleen Plestad and will have Steve Wiseman at the controls. Lodi Dorian Blues has been assigned the outside slot in the field of seven, while Hare to Eternity goes from the No 4 post in a cast of six.

Lodi Dorian Blues is a 7-year-old son of New Age Hanover out of the Cooper Lobell mare Storm Cooper who races for Scot Ehrlich and George McCrystal. He comes into this assignment having won seven of his 30 starts on the year, including a lifetime best 1:57 1/5 tour here earlier this season.

The hard-hitting sidewheeler has been a fast-closing third in both his appearances at this stand since returning from Running Aces and will surely appreciate the fact that Flameon and Silverlode will be staying in the barn this weekend.

Rounding out the cast, from the rail out are Winsome Kelly from the Luke Plano shedrow; Kickinitwithkohler from the Kennedy Lindsey barn; the Lino Pacheco-trained Winsun Galaxie; the Sparky Clarke trainee Zoraze; and Cadet from the Vickie Desomer barn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


World’s fastest Standardbred to be honored on Friday

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (November 16, 2016) – Always B Miki will make one final trip to the winner’s circle before he goes off to his second career as a stallion. The world’s fastest Standardbred of all-time will officially be retired in a ceremony at the Meadowlands on Friday, November 18.

The five-year-old son of Always A Virgin capped off his brilliant career last Saturday at the Meadowlands by winning the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Final by four lengths in 1:48.2. He retires with 30 wins, 13 seconds, and three third-place finishes in 53 lifetime starts for earnings of $2,715,368. ‘Miki set the all-time speed record of 1:46 when winning the Allerage Farms Open Pace in October at Lexington. He is the likely favorite to be voted the sport’s Horse of the Year.

“I think it’s really poetic to end his career where it started,” said co-owner Bob Boni. “My partner Mitchel Skolnick and I made the deal to buy half of the horse after his third baby race at the Meadowlands. It’s all of our home track, from myself and Mitchel, to Jimmy Takter, and David Miller. It all comes full circle. I’ve been at the Meadowlands since day one so it’s nice to have this happen here.”

The retirement ceremony will take place after the fourth race of the evening. ‘Miki will jog from the back paddock to the winner’s circle while a highlight video of his career plays throughout the building. He will be presented with a commemorative blanket and pose for photos while his connections are interviewed on the Meadowlands TV broadcast.

“It is our honor to send this tremendous racehorse out with a ceremony that honors his legendary career,” said Meadowlands GM Jason Settlemoir. “All of us have watched with such excitement the battles that ‘Miki waged with his rival Wiggle It Jiggleit this season and I don’t think anyone that was here at the Meadowlands for the Breeders Crown will ever forget ‘Miki prevailing after that epic stretch duel.”

Always B Miki will begin his stallion career at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania. He will stand for a $12,500 stud fee.

Cal Expo Friday Advance

Lindsey trainees having twice as much fun
By Mark Ratzky, publicity – Cal Expo Harness

Last week’s initial Friday night program was a good one for trainer Kennedy Lindsey, who ended up posing for pictures with the pacer Whatchamacallum and the trotter Katie Mouse.

Both performers were making it two straight wins, with Whatchamacallum proving his 46-1 shocker the previous week was no fluke, while Katie Mouse was the 6-5 choice after recording a 9-1 upset in her prior appearance.

“My entire barn got a little sick when we got back from Chicago,” noted Lindsey. “I knew they were all going to be at least a week behind everybody else.”

Whatchamacallum is 5-year-old who carries the banner of Patricia Stevens and has been guided in his last two tallies by James Kennedy. He has been up close and personal in both those miles and won clearly on both occasions.

“I was surprised as anybody when he won that first race, because I thought he would need another start,” his mentor noted. “He set a new mark that night, and then he came back and set another one last time after getting roughed up on the first turn.”

Katie Mouse has done the track-and-attack to perfection for veteran Chip Lackey in her last two trips to the post and like Whatchamacallum, spent the summer at Hawthorne Park. “She kept racing first over in Chicago, and that’s not the way she likes to be driven,” Lindsey said. “She wants to sit in and come for the stretch, which is what she’s done in her last two here. I thought she was the one to beat.

“Our other horse in that race (Shez So Sassy) gets kind of hard to control when she makes the front and I had a feeling she was going to be in trouble when she was racing up there.”

Annette Funicello Final atop the marquee

The $8,200 Annette Funicello Final for pacing fillies and mares is the main attraction on Friday night’s card at Cal Expo, with The Bearded Lady looming the one to beat after posting a dominating score last weekend.

There are 12 races on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with a 6:10 first post for both the Friday and Saturday programs.

The Bearded Lady is a 4-year-old daughter of Mach Three out of the Jate Lobell mare Madam Christie who is owned by Mark Anderson, hails from the Gordie Graham barn and will once again have the services of James Kennedy.

In last week’s Funicello prep, The Bearded Lady sat last for a half, began to pick up momentum on the final bend and then stormed home to draw of to a three and one-half length victory as the 3-2 favorite.

Lining up against her on Friday are Rodeo Blues with Andy Arsenault; Wisecrack, William Hernandez; Queenofhot, Mark Kennedy; Wizzel Stix with Steve Wiseman at the helm; Slick Fall, Tony Succarotte; and Pa’s Corn Squeezin, to be guided by Luke Plano.


The 50-cent Pick 5 and the 20-cent Pick 4, which both come with a reduced 16 percent takeout, continue to pay well here with a nice bonus for the winners courtesy of that lower rate.

Last Saturday night’s Pick 5 returned $3,104, while the using the regular takeout it would have been $2,771, a difference of $331 per winning 50-cent  ticket. The Pick 4 on the program was good for $5,321 for the 20-cent investment, with a $4,750 return with the regular take for an increase of a cool $571 for each ticket holder.


Meadowlands operator/Tioga and Vernon Downs owner to receive Galbreath Award

November 16, 2016, Louisville, Kentucky---The University of Louisville Equine Industry Program announced today that Jeffrey Gural, a long-time New York real estate magnate, Standardbred breeder and owner, and, more recently, harness track owner and operator in New Jersey and New York, has been selected at the recipient of the John W. Galbreath Award, given each year since 1990 to a person or persons who have led successful equine enterprises.
            “The Galbreath Award recognizes people who have built successful enterprises that serve the industry and act in a positive way to build marketing initiatives that encourage participation in the horse industry by others,” said Tim Capps, the director of the Equine Industry Program.  “Jeff Gural’s love of horses and of the game of harness racing has driven his desire to sustain the sport and make it a better place, first for fans, then for participants.  He’s a believer in the sport, and has invested a lot of his money and time into making it more vibrant and more deserving of peoples’ attention.”
            Gural became part of New York’s complex and challenging real estate industry as a birth-right, growing up in the home of Aaron Gural, who made the commercial real estate business in New York his passion from the late 1930’s onward.  Aaron Gural would build a large real estate management company which would become, arguably, the city’s largest in terms of square footage under management, running more than eight million square feet of real estate.
            His son, Jeff, found his way into the same business with his father, but not before earning a degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic University, a private school located in Troy, New York, known as an incubator of promising engineers but not horse racing enthusiasts or participants.
            “I got interested in harness racing as a young guy, going to the New York tracks, in particular Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island.  We would gather a bunch of guys and go out and bet and drink beer and have a great time,” says Gural, who admits he fell in love with horses along the way, without recognizing at the time that they, and the industry, would become one of his chief passions.
            Gural began his real estate career in 1966 when he went to work for the Morse-Diesel Construction Company, joining his father’s firm in 1972.  “Of the things I’m grateful for, one  is being born in a real estate family and another is the things I learned from my father, one of which is that to be successful in commercial real estate you need to have a long-term perspective, be in it for the long haul.
            Gural would become the head of Newmark Frank in the late ‘70’s, then lead it through both national expansions and international efforts that would result in a strategic partnership with Knight Frank, a London-based company in 2006.  That would bring them into the international real estate business in a major way, and would lead to their acquisition by BGC Partners, a public company traded on NASDAQ.
            While at age 74, Gural still manages the buildings the company owns and operates on a daily basis, he is the practical and spiritual leader of American Racing and Entertainment LLC, which operates “racinos” at Vernon Downs and Tioga Raceway in western New York, and perhaps harness racing’s most glamorous facility at the Meadowlands in northern New Jersey.
            “I have two Standardbred farms in New York, and a lot of horses, which I love being around and watching them,” says Gural.  “They have a calming effect on me!”
            Not so calming are the operations of the three tracks, which have been upgraded and are marketed more than their competitors.  While the “Great Recession” was damaging to the horse industry in general, its impacts on the racing industry were particularly visible through sharp declines in foal crops, drops in wagering at virtually all tracks, and cuts in race days across the country.
            Gural stepped in as the owner of the two New York tracks---one senior manager at a New York track in their area credits Gural with making a bad situation tolerable.  “He saved New York harness racing upstate without question. He was the indispensable guy, the person who made the difference.”
            As notable were his efforts at the Meadowlands, where he decided to lease the operation from the state, then leave the old plant behind and build a new facility, smaller but more promotable and usable than the prior facility.  Had he done just that he would have satisfied many concerned harness industry participants who were looking for ports in the storm.   However, ………………
            Gural has been a strong advocate for cleaning up the sport, “making it something people can believe in again,” as  he puts it, and that has rubbed a number of people the wrong way.  Gural has suspended trainers and owners for repeated drug use and other bad habits that he feels are not appropriate at a time when horsemen need to put on a quality show that emphasizes the best in horse care and management, and a good show, besides.
            “We spend real money on marketing, on telling people why this is a good game to participate in, so we need to make sure that what we tell them is fair and accurate,” says Gural, whose tone can be charming (he’s a major philanthropist in New York) or blunt, but rarely both. As a self-acknowledged liberal Democrat, he knows and has known leading Democratic politicians for years, but acknowledges that the current political climate is mixed for gaming efforts, having backed a visible effort to bring a casino to the Meadowlands only to see it fall in popularity to the point he and fellow supporter Paul Fireman announced in late summer that they were backing away from the idea for the moment.
            It is taking a longer time than he would like to get the stars aligned in his harness world, but he’s been going down this road for awhile, so attempts to be philosophical:  “We have to change in order to survive; having said that I continue to believe that change---positive change---is a possibility, and a necessity,” says Gural.
            The Galbreath Award will be presented at the Speed Art Museum, adjacent to the College of Business, on Thursday evening, November 17th.