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Sunday, July 31, 2016


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

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, July 30, 2016—It’s never too late to find a new handicapping angle, so we offer up this one…find a pair that have been both out of the box for three weeks, sprinkle in a moist surface and count the cash.

That was Saturday night’s summary for Yonkers Raceway’s pair of $45,000 co-featured Open Handicaps.

Allerage Star (Brian Sears, $13.40) negotiated her route from the pocket, stalking—from post position No. 5—Melady’s Monet (Tyler Buter) through intervals of :28.1, :57.4 and 1:26.4.

‘Melady’ had his hands full with a parked-the-mile Lady’s Dude (George Brennan), with the former owning a short lead entering the lane. Allerage Star ducked inside and beat the boys, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:55.4.

Mr. Photo Finish couldn’t separate the Melady’s Monet and Lady’s Dude, who ‘heated’ for second. Somebody AS (Jordan Stratton) and Red Hot Herbie (Dan Dube) came away with the remainder.

Tepid 7-2 choice Undercover Strike (Jason Bartlett) was not get involved from an assigned eight-hole and wound up sixth.

For fifth choice Allerage Star, a 4-year-old daughter of Angus Hall trained by Julie Miller for co-owners Little E, Jason Settlemoir, Arthur Geiger and David Stolz, it was her seventh win in 18 seasonal starts. The exactas paid $58.50 (Lady’s  Dude second) and $46.60 (Melady’s Monet second), with the triples returning $332 (‘Lady’ second) and $311 (‘Melady’ second).

The week’s featured pace saw Somewhere in L A (Brennan, $27.20), from post No. 2, move first-up from third. He did so after Rock on Moe (Stratton) and 19-10 fave Mach it So (Bartlett) took turns leading (:27.1, :56.2, 1:24.1).

With Mach it So giving it up early in the lane, Somewhere in L A continued on and gutted this one out. He defeated a ground-saving McErlean (Buter) by a nose in 1:52.3.

The Real One (Pat Lachance) arrived late and missed a head, with Rock on Moe and Mach it So settling for the minors.

For sixth choice Somewhere in L A, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding trained by Jimmy Takter for co-owning stables Our Horse Cents, J&T Silva & T LP and Deo Volente Farms, he’s now 3-for-10 this season. The exacta paid $246, with the triple returning $999. 

‘Side Bet’, ‘Celebrity’ score in Oaks at Big M

by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Side Bet Hanover and Celebrity Eventsy registered upset victories in their respective Hambletonian Oaks Eliminations Saturday night at the Meadowlands, and as a result, may select posts one through five for next week’s $500,000 final for 3-year-old trotting fillies.

Side Bet Hanover lit up the board as a 38-1 chance in the first elim. After leaving quickly from post one, the Jonas Czernyson trainee settled into a three-hole trip down the backstretch.

All eyes were on 2-5 favorite Caprice Hill, who trotted past the half in :55.3 and three-quarters in 1:25 and was clear of the field by 3 lengths at the eighth pole.

Driver Corey Callahan then moved Side Bet Hanover ($78.20 to win) off the rail, found a seam late, and sprinted the final 50 yards to catch the odds-on choice and win by a head in a lifetime-best 1:53.2. Earning the final three berths in next week’s final were Dream Child, Black Broadway and Windowshopper.

“I guess they have no respect for me,” said Czernyson of his horse’s odds. “It looks like we have her peaking at the right time.”

Also peaking at the right time is the Staffan Lind-trained Celebrity Eventsy ($12.60), who scored for driver John Campbell after taking the early lead before working out a pocket trip behind 8-5 second choice Broadway Donna. In deep stretch, she charged up the rail to register a neck win in a lifetime-best 1:53.1 over the sloppy going.

All The Time, the 3-2 favorite, got within a length of the leader racing first-over at the head of the stretch, but went evenly from there. Broadway Donna finished a neck in back of the winner, but was off stride at the wire, was disqualified and placed third, behind All The Time. Double Exposure and Wildflower earned the final two tickets to the final.

“We’ve been aiming for this all along,” said Lind.

FRANK READY FOR HAMBO: Southwind Frank overcame a track bias that played to closers all night long and took the Reynolds Memorial in a lifetime-best equaling 1:52.1 after brushing with authority to the lead at the half for his 16th win in 18 lifetime starts, setting him up perfectly for next week’s $1M Hambletonian.

HAMBO TV: The 91st Hambletonian will be televised live Saturday (August 6) on the CBS Sports Network. The 90-minute program, hosted by Gary Seibel, co-hosted by Dave Brower with interviews by Justin Horowitz, begins at 4 p.m. with the Hambletonian post time scheduled for 5:15 p.m. … All-source wagering on the card totaled $2,487,230. … Racing resumes at the Big M Friday at 7:15 p.m. … Remember! Post time on Hambletonian Day is noon.

JK Panache bounces back in Vernon return

Vernon, N.Y. -- Following a third-place effort behind Luck Be Withyou on the Gerrity undercard at Saratoga last week, JK Panache ($5.60) bounced back to capture his 40th career win in Saturday (July 30) evening's featured $10,000 Open/Preferred Handicap Pace at Vernon Downs.

Chris Lems sent the 7-year-old Art Major gelding right to the front from an assigned outside post, sprinting clear of a pressing All Stienam (John MacDonald) through a :26 first quarter. Despite a lack of pressure through the middle half, JK Panache maintained a solid clip through middle splits of :54.3 and 1:22.1 before bracing for a challenge from 5-4 favorite Jacksrluckytoo (Greg Merton) off the far turn. While Jacksrluckytoo was able to just collar pocket foe All Stienam in the battle for second, JK Panache evaded his five foes in strong fashion, posting a :26.4 closing quarter to cap his two-length 1:49 triumph.

Trainer David Dewhurst co-owns JK Panache with Philip Hale.

The sub-featured $7,500 Miracle Mile pacing event went to Jet Airway ($4.50), who kicked cover off the far turn to best an under-pressure That'll Be the Rei in 1:51. Atlee Bender gave the 5-year-old Jereme's Jet entire a cozy second-over trip behind Pantheon Hanover before making his move to collar dueling leaders in mid-stretch. Trainer Erv Miller co-owns Jet Airway with Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle.

Racing returns to Vernon Downs on Thursday (August 4), with post time slated for 6:45 p.m. Eastern.


By john manzi for the CKG Billings Series

Talk about dominating--- well that’s exactly what Bob “the Lumberman” Troyer and Heza Rube have been doing in the Midwest region of the CKG Billings amateur Driving Series.

For the fourth time this season Troyer and Heza Rube hooked-up again for yet another victory in the granddaddy of all amateur driving series when they won the $6000 Billings trot at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park on Saturday, July 30th.

Sent off at odds of 3-1 in the 10-horse field Heza Rube was third choice on the betting line despite starting from the pole position and having three wins in the series.
Surprisingly 32-1 shot, Celtic Merchant, was sent to the lead from the seven-hole by Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford and they gained command in the 29-second first quarter while Troyer was content to get away in third position.

“’Rube’ is usually a slow leaver but tonight he got away real good and we were third at the quarter which put us in good shape,” Troyer said.   

As Oldford and Celtic Merchant showed the way showed the way  to the half four trotters were out on the limb  which moved Heza Rube back to fifth place as they trotted by the halfway point in :59.1.
Celtic Merchant was still on the lead at the third stanza in 1:29.2 but as the field rounded the final turn and headed for paydirt Mutinyonthebounty and Ned “the Insurance Agent” Hodkinson rallied to second place. However, when the field straightened for home Celtic Merchant kept Mutinyonthebounty at bay but Oldford’s veteran trotter couldn’t rebuff the late charge by Heza Rube in the passing lane and Troyer’s charge went on to a head victory over Celtic Merchant in the 2:00.1 mile. Mutinyonthebounty, a length behind the first two finishers, was third best.

“You know 10 horses on a half-mile track keeps you on your toes but I had a good trip hugging the pylons all the way,” Troyer said via telephone. “And when we headed for home Ned (Hodkinson with Mutinyonthebounty) went to the outside and I shot down passing lane and caught Steve (Oldford) in the final strides to win it.”

Now with his fourth win in the Midwest Region Troyer was jokingly asked if he gets tired beating up on the others in this series, to which he quickly replied “I kinda like it.”

Heza Rube, owned by Deborah Kvernmo and trained by Miles Wollam, paid $8.00 for win. Troyer, a Buckeye from Middlefield, Ohio, has been participating the Billings Series since 2000 and tonight he scored his 80th driving victory.

Prairie Fortune rallies for third straight Open triumph

Nichols, N.Y. -- Prairie Fortune ($4.10) stalked second-over cover en route to his third straight Open win in Saturday (July 30) evening's $11,000 featured trotting event at Tioga Downs.

The 4-year-old Arapa Victory gelding once again raced from off the pace, settling last but one in the initial stages as early pacesetter Dragin the Wagon (Fern Paquet, Jr.) yielded to Its Payday Friday (Ronnie Morales, III) after a :29 first quarter. Its Payday Friday accelerated mildly upon taking charge, forced to maintain that acceleration by the first-over Rossini (Scott Coulter) through a :57.1 middle half.

Rossini kept the pressure on in earnest through the far turn, and Prairie Fortune geared up upon cornering as he did in his two previous wins. Jim Meittinis worked Prairie Fortune to the fore just in time, prevailing by a neck over Dragin the Wagon--who re-emerged from the pocket--in 1:56.1 over sloppy going. Its Payday Friday was a worn-down third.

Trainer Mike Deters co-owns Prairie Fortune with Laurie Poulin.

In the $13,000 Summer Claiming Series final for pacing mares, Juxta Antz Pantz held sway for a 10-1 upset over Delta Dawn Hanover in 1:55.4. Kyle DiBenedetto vacated the pocket with the 4-year-old Four Starzzz Shark mare with a circuit to go to control the terms, ultimately held clear of the late-rallying Delta Dawn Hanover (Jim Taggart, Jr.) by a length. My Sweet Mandy (John Cummings, Jr.) rallied from far off the pace to take third, missing by 1-3/4 lengths. Daniel Gill trains Juxta Antz Pantz for owner Adam Friedland.

Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Sunday (July 31) afternoon, with the first of 12 races due off at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Meadowlands Breakfast with the Babies Concludes

East Rutherford, NJ – The swan song of the 2016 Breakfast With The Babies season took place this morning (Saturday, July 30) on a nice day of around 8o degrees and no wind.

The day began with a qualifier for older horses, as many of the drivers had to hop a plane to get to The Meadows for this afternoon’s Adios.

That first race heralded the return to racing of 2015 Trotter of the Year Pinkman with a 1:53.2 winning effort. He set all the fractions for Yannick Gingras and held on through a 27.2 final quarter resisting the strong close of Rose Run Parker. Hambletonian contender Marion Marauder was drawn into this qualifier but did not appear.

Future Secured, the most costly of all 2015 yearlings at $500,000, has recently been relocated to the Ake Svanstedt barn by owners Bender Sweden and Roy Holth. She was a winner at first asking for Ake in 1:57 leading virtually every step and winning easily over Way Out West (Corey Callahan).

Corey won the second race in 2:01.1 on Devanly for trainer Jonas Czernyson. The Donato Hanover lass inherited the lead on the backstretch from a breaking Barn Goddess and held sway over Ophelia (Joe Bongiorno) and Vicky Kronos IT (Marcus Melander). Devany was a $30,000 Harrisburg buy for Millstream Stable, Alderbaran Park, Joe Sbrocco and Little E, LLC.

Explosive Ridge was the easiest kind of winner for Marcus and Nancy Johansson cutting the 1:59.2 mile, then sprinting home in 28.3. He’s a Kenny Ross homebred Explosive Matter that Nancy is now a partner on. Muscle Almighty (John Campbell) was second.

Oscar Florhed drove Ebury Street to a 1:59.2 win for his boss Ake Svanstedt in the Andover Hall colt’s very first start . Ebury Street sat patiently in the pocket behind Takter and Nobel Prize for Oscar then went by willingly on his own for the win. Knutsson Trotting and Courant AB own the $37,000 Harrisburg yearling.

Pacers come onto the track after a break and John Campbell steered Ozzy Blue Chip to a front-stepping 1:56.2 win for trainer Steve Elliott. Candell (Mark MacDonald) rallied up the inside after a pocket ride to be second and Mr Varsity (Callahan) had good late pace for third. The winner, a $95,000 Lexington yearling is owned by the Breeder Blue Chip Farms with Fred Monteleone.

Passport To Art looked sharp in a 1:55.3 win today for driver Joe Bongiorno. He cut the mile and sprinted home in 27.3 under his own power to win by a couple over Rock N Blue (Campbell). Tony Alagna trains the winner, an $80,000 Harrisburg buy, for Crawford Farms, In The Gym Stables, Joe Sbrocco and Adriano Sorella.

Kiss Kiss won the final baby race of the season for a couple of legends, driver John Campbell and trainer Ross Croghan. She followed the lead of Emily R Hanover (Keith Kamann) through easy fractions then engaged that one through the 27.3 end to the 1:56 mile. Let It Ride and Dana Parham own the American Ideal filly.

It’s Hambletonian Oaks elim night at The Meadowlands with several exciting stakes on the bill as well as the popular Brews, Blues & BBQ. Post time is 7:15 p.m.

Gingras rolls a 7 at Big M

by Dave Little, Meadowlands Media Relations

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Driver Yannick Gingras had the hot hand at the Meadowlands Friday night, winning seven times on the 13-race program, including the $25,000 featured open handicap with the top trotter in training, Hannelore Hanover.

Taking full advantage of being first call for two of the top stables in the game, Gingras won four races for Jimmy Takter and three for Ron Burke.

Gingras kept the Burke-trained Hannelore Hanover ($3.20 to win) last in the field of six until picking up live cover at the five-eighths. JL Cruze, who had led from the start, was still going well in the stretch but was bearing out some as Hannelore Hanover charged up on the outside to score by a half-length in 1:51.1, equaling the Big M’s track record for 4-year-old trotting mares.

IT’S TAKTER’S WORLD: Trainer Jimmy Takter once again dominated the 2-year-old trotting stakes events at the Meadowlands, winning both of the Peter Haughton Memorial Eliminations for colts and geldings and one of two Jim Doherty Eliminations for fillies.
Takter actually found a way to win three times in the Haughton, scoring twice in the opening elimination as his King On The Hill (Tim Tetrick, $5.20) got up on the wire to dead heat with stablemate Rubio (Gingras, $2.10) in 1:54.2 before Victor Gio It (Gingras, $6.20) took the other elim in 1:54.4.

Ariana G (Gingras, $2.10 to win) remained unbeaten in three starts for Takter with an easy win in the first of two Doherty dashes in 1:54.1. Trainer Trond Smedshammer’s Chezatter (David Miller, $9.00) prevented a Takter sweep by taking the other Doherty elim in 1:54.3.

AND THE REST: Gingras’ other winners came with Sassa Hanover (Burke, $4.00), Classical Annie (Burke, $3.60) and Reigning Moni (Takter, $2.80). … All-source wagering on the program totaled $2,498,407. … Racing resumes at the Big M Saturday at 7:15 p.m. with two Hambletonian Oaks Eliminations sitting atop the marquee.

Rock the Boat impresses on debut in Tioga NYSS

Nichols, N.Y. -- First-time starter Rock the Boat ($4.30) dropped jaws in his career debut on Friday (July 29) evening at Tioga Downs, dominating eight other 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings in his $37,966 New York Sire Stakes event in going-away fashion.

Jim Marohn, Jr. was patient early with the royally-bred son of Rock N Roll Heaven and Tug River Princess, stalking comfortably behind an early charge led by 100-1 outsider This Is My Song (Aaron Byron), who pushed clear from post 9 through a :26.4 initial quarter. With a circuit to go, Rock the Boat powered clear from fourth, making up nearly five lengths to overtake This Is My Song on approach to the clubhouse turn.

After pulling the pace back through a :56.3 half, Rock the Boat braced for a first-over bid from Pointomygranson (Jim Morrill, Jr.), but accelerated in kind through a :27.4 third quarter. Once Pointomygranson's bid concluded, the main danger for Rock the Boat was Very Special Agent (Jason Bartlett), who switched off cover to keep the pressure on just above the eighth pole. Rock the Boat accelerated away while kept to task, mounting a 3-1/4 length margin en route to a 1:52.4 victory. Very Special Agent maintained runner-up honors, while Octane Blue Chip (Phil Fluet) emerged off third-over cover to claim third.

Ross Croghan trains Rock the Boat for the Let It Ride Stables, Inc. and Mr. Dana Parham.

Sons of Roll With Joe captured the other two Sire Stakes splits on the 13-race card for trainer Ron Burke, with Miso Fast ($2.50, part of entry) and Rock It Scott ($5.80) prevailing in their respective events.

Miso Fast, a son of Roll With Joe and Sakura Hanover, used a second-over trip behind Thrdthrsdaynsptmbr (Ken Holliday) to work closer to pacesetter Windsong Napoleon (Scott Coulter) on the far turn before vaulting to the fore off the corner. Jim Morrill, Jr. drove Miso Fast to a 1:53.1 victory over stablemate Offdahook Bluechip (Joe Bongiorno), while Windsong Napoleon checked in a worn-down third.

Rock It Scott had a more eventful journey, yielding to an aggressive Music Is Art (Morrill) on approach to the clubhouse turn before retaking and sprinting off by 4-1/2 lengths in the final quarter of a 1:54.1 mile under Joe Bongiorno. The son of Roll With Joe and Vanite Semalu held clear of a late bid from runner-up Willie Joe Hill (Patrick Lachance), while Americanfirewater (Marohn) saved third from a tracking trip

Jason Bartlett led all drivers with four wins on the 13-race card, while Morrill tallied three.

Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (July 30) evening, with a 12-race card due to commence at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.



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

YONKERS, NY, Friday, July 29, 2016—Jonsie Jones (Tyler Buter, $27.20) was up at the wire Friday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $45,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap Pace.

From the outset, the distaffers threw it down in a hotly-contested affair. Triple millionairess Anndrovette (Jordan Stratton), as the 13-10 favorite, was caught three-wide leaving.

She eventually worked around Know it All (Eric Abbatiello), making the lead after a :27.3 opening quarter-mile. It was a :56.4 intermission before Sheeza Shark N (Brent Holland), who closed an early hole, tried it first-up from fourth.

That one pestered the leader in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters, with Secrets Out N (George Brennan) second-up and Jonsie Jones—from post position No. 6—operating from third-over.

Anndrovette owned the slimmest of leads into the lane, but then an impromptu convention broke out. The ladies all came together before ‘Jonsie’ found the wire first in 1:53.1. She whipped Secrets Out N by a head, with a wide-side Mach it a Par (Brian Sears) charging from last to grab third.

Anndrovette was fourth—beaten a neck for the big check—with Sheeza Shark N getting the final pay envelope. The five cashers were separated by a half-length, while the entire octet was two lengths front-to-back at the finish.     

For fourth choice Jonsie Jones, a 9-year-old daughter of Tulane owned by Lrl Racing and trained by Amber Buter, it was her eighth win in 23 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $112, the triple returned $734 and the superfecta paid $1,739.   


Oh No Three O last to first in top Vernon trot

Vernon, N.Y. -- Charlene Long's Oh No Three O ($8.10) passed all four of his rivals in Friday (July 29) evening's featured $8,000 Miracle Mile/Open Trot at Vernon Downs, accelerating once free in upper stretch to collar 3-4 favorite A Penny Earned in the last 40 yards.

Claude Huckabone, III settled Oh No Three O to the back of the compact field from the outset, taking no part in the pacesetting proceedings while A Penny Earned (Chris Lems) strode out to a clear lead via a blistering :26.2 first quarter.  While Gimme the Cash (Jimmy Whittemore) made steady first-over gains to keep A Penny Earned from fully relaxing on the lead, Oh No Three O saved ground through a :58 middle half.

As the outer flow weakened off the far turn, Oh No Three O managed to gain third up the pegs and subsequently switched to the two-path just outside the eighth pole. He accelerated at once, mowing down A Penny Earned in deep stretch and sprinting off by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:53.4. Twice Too Nice (John MacDonald) was fully extended in her pursuit from the pocket, finishing another 3-3/4 lengths back in third.

Paul Long trains Oh No Three O, now a 30-time winner. The 1:53.4 mile was good for a seasonal mark and his fourth victory in 2016.

In the sub-featured event, a $5,500 Miracle Mile trot, My Lucky Word ($16.00) left from post 8 to secure a pocket trip behind Ozymandias (Roman Lopez) off a fast pace before pouncing in upper stretch for a 1:54.1 victory. Jimmy Whittemore drove the 4-year-old Lucky Chucky mare for owner Philip Hale and trainer David Dewhurst.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Saturday (July 30) evening, with an 11-race card set to commence at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.

Friday, July 29, 2016

GSY Amateurs Battle the Pros Saturday at The Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ – Bringing the curtain down on a wildly successful 2016 season, members of the GSY Amateur Driving Club will take on the pros in Saturday night’s first race, titled The $12,000 GSY Pro Am.

The amateur drivers have played a large role in the live racing this season, providing races when asked and the quality of the competition has drawn interest from the horseplayers. Several of the GSY events handled well in excess of $200,000 with the zenith on March 20 when two GSY races handled more than $500,000 combined.

Saturday’s race pits the top six dash winners from this year's races, John Calabrese and Jim Marshall IV (4 wins), Bob Hechkoff, David Glasser and Joe Lee (3 wins) and Hannah Miller (2 wins) against Hall of Fame drivers John Campbell and David Miller along with the sport’s current top seasonal money winner Tim Tetrick.

The Pro Am is scheduled in concert with the “Night at The Meadowlands” owners seminar offered by The Meadowlands and the USTA on Saturday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m.

David Glasser is among the mentors available to the attending prospects and he will return after the race to relive his experience with the group. David’s harness racing roots are deep as his parents, Evelyn and Arthur Glasser owned well over 200 horses that raced at tracks in the greater metropolitan area years ago.

The Meadowlands appreciates the efforts of the GSY Amateur Club, particularly Club President Dave Yarock who has worked tirelessly to provide competitive races for his members and the track.

You may learn more about Amateur Harness Driving and the GSY club in particular by visiting their website.

All proceeds from membership dues and driver’s percentages from the races are donated to the Edward Weiner & Edward Yarock Scholarship.  This entity provides scholarships to individuals pursuing higher education related to the equine and harness racing industries. The fund also provides grants to individuals in the harness racing community (their children and/or family members) in their pursuit of higher education. Since inception, through the end of 2015, the fund has provided over $150,000 in assistance.

The Meadowlands will also host the popular Brews, Blues & BBQ on Saturday night. Post time is 7:15 p.m.

Saturday Night Is Special at The Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ – Saturday night at The Meadowlands promises great racing and great food with Grand Circuit stakes for the top three-year-old trotters in their final preparation before next weeks’ Hambletonian, the fastest sophomore pacers in the Garden State and Brews, Blues & BBQ to satisfy your culinary desires.

Saturday’s racing features are a pair of ten filly $50,000 elimination races for next week’s $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks featuring the finest trotting fillies in the land.

The first elimination is race six where Tom Hill’s 2015 O’Brien award winning Caprice Hill makes her Meadowlands pari-mutuel debut against Ontario rival and Zweig Filly winner Flowers N Songs, Reynolds Memorial winner Side Bet Hanover and the Del Miller dead-heat duo of Unica Steed and Woman’s Will. Tim Tetrick has the drive on Caprice for trainer Tony Alagna.

The second split (race seven) boasts a very accomplished group led by the 2015 Dan Patch award winner for the division, Broadway Donna. She faces a solid nine that includes multiple stakes winners Celebrity Eventsy, All The Time and Double Exposure. Dave Miller has driven Broadway Donna in each of her thirteen career starts, resulting in eleven wins for owner Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farms and trainer Jim Campbell.

The supporting card includes the $150,000 Anthony Abbatiello for New Jersey bred sophomore pacing colts and its filly companion stake, the $85,000 Thomas D’Altrui Memorial.

Boston Red Rocks is still searching for his award winning form of last season. He finds a friendly spot in the Abbatiello, starting from the rail in race two, that may launch him back into the limelight for the trainer-driver team of Steve Elliott and Tim Tetrick. Peter Blood and Rick Berks share ownership of Boston Red Rocks.

The D’Altrui looks like a showcase for Blue Moon Stride. She’s in the midst of a terrific season for trainer Mark Harder and owners Emelio and Maria Rosati with four wins including the NJSS final and the Mistletoe Shalee in a career best 1:49.2 for Andy McCarthy in her last. The D’Altrui is off the card at 6:40 p.m.

We’ll also get a last look at presumptive Hambletonian favorite Southwind Frank who will give his ten opponents a head start as he gets his final tune-up for the big race from the second tier in the $53,000 Scott Frost – W.N. Reynolds Memorial. Yannick Gingras is assigned with the task of navigating a course to the winner’s circle for trainer Ron Burks and his partners in the eponymously named stable.

The Meadowlands will host the popular Brews, Blues & BBQ on Saturday night with several accomplished meat smokers and roasters competing for prizes and recognition. For the horseplayer, we offer a free look into the $50,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 wagers each week.

Post time is 7:15 p.m.

Southern Girl resolute in Vernon distaff

Vernon, N.Y. -- Connie Hochstetler's Southern Girl ($5.90) battled resolutely to capture Thursday (July 28) evening's $5,500 featured Miracle Mile event for distaff pacers at Vernon Downs, digging deep once headed off the far turn en route to a 1:51.4 victory.

Fern Paquet, Jr. cleared to the lead with the 4-year-old Sportsmaster mare in the opening stages, out-sprinting Love You Bye (Jimmy Whittemore) through a :27.2 first quarter before relaxing the pace just a bit up the backstretch. Southern Girl was forced to accelerate on the far turn by the first-over The Filly Princess (Truman Gale)--the two dueled through a :27.1 third quarter with The Filly Princess working a head in front on approach to the home straight. Southern Girl responded in kind, forcefully repelling The Filly Princess in upper stretch and holding clear of a stand-side push from Jinxy's Delight (John MacDonald) by 1-1/2 lengths. The Filly Princess faded to third.

Homer Hochstetler trains Southern Girl, who scored her fifth win on the season and the tenth of her career.

Live racing returns to Vernon Downs on Friday (July 29) evening, with the first of nine races due off at 6:45 p.m. Eastern.


by john manzi for the CKG Billings Series

The CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series began the second portion of this year’s competition at Yonkers Raceway with two Eastern Region non-betting divisions on Thursday, July 28 with a pair of Joe’s each emerging victorious. “Joltin’ Joe” Pennacchio copped his division with Windsong Illusion  while “Yankee Joe” Lee took home first money in the second split.

In the Eastern Region #1 Final the previous Thursday, also at Yonkers Raceway, the series point leader “Hurricane Hannah” Miller won that event and now becomes eligible for the Billings Gold Cup Final later this year at Harrah’s Chester Downs.

At Yonkers with “Joltin’ Joe” Pennacchio, subbing for Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford who was stranded in the Midwest, worked himself a good journey with Windsong Illusion, staying close to the leaders and then exploding in the stretch to trot by Shanghai Jack and “Hurricane Hannah” to score a one-length triumph in a 1:59.3 clocking. Bluebird Kidsqueen finished third for Dave “the Rave” Offenberg.

Pennacchio was happy to get the mount behind Windsong Illusion and he was extremely gratified on his driving victory.

“It was just one of those things, a picture perfect trip, and though it doesn’t happen that often it’s nice when you’re on the winning end of it,”Pennacchio said after this triumph.”I got away third and then ended-up with a two-hole Journey behind Hannah (with Shanghai Jack) and then  came up the inside in the stretch and trotted by her.”

Windsong Illusion is owned by Oldford Racing, LLC and trained by Allen Cisco. It was the fourth seasonal triumph for Windsong Illusion and the 155th driving victory for Joe Pennacchio, a retired investment manager.

A second non-wagering amateur split was copped Rocket Master, driven by “Yankee Joe” Lee, the New York Yankees’ clubhouse manager who scored his fifth seasonal driving victory.

Starting from post five Lee was content to allow his trotter to leave the gate slowly and they were in fifth position as Trotalot and Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff showed the way by the first stanza in :28.4. Lee followed cover as the field headed for the half and remained in fifth pace although closer to the pacesetter. Rocket Master didn’t shake lose until the final turn but when he did gained command at the top of the lane and then went on to an easy three length triumph over Cassa’s Image driven by John “the Veterinarian” Kokinos. “Smokin’ Joe” Faraldo took home the show dough with For You Almostfree.

“We got away next to last,” Lee admitted, “but we came third-over heading to the half. We were closing in on the leaders up the backside and on the final  turn I had plenty of horse. We began passing horses and by mid-stretch we had it wrapped up and we coasted home an easy winner.”

It was the third seasonal victory for Rocket Master who’s owned by Ronald Cohen and trained by Mike Forte. For Lee, who only gets a chance to drive when the New York Yankees are out of town, or not scheduled to play on Thursdays, it was his fifth seasonal driving victory and 15th of his amateur career.

Next Billings action is slated for Saturday night, July 30 at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park.


   By John Manzi for NAADA

The seventh of ten legs in the North American Amateur Drivers Association’s (NAADA) trotting series was presented on Thursday, July 28 at Monticello Raceway on a hot an steamy afternoon and when the events were finalized Bob Kenney and Bob Krivelin each emerged victorious in their respective splits. Kenney won with Come And Tell Pap in 2:00.3 while Krivelin eeked- out a victory with Permanent Joy in a 1:58.3 clocking.

Kenney, a retired computer salesman from Belchertown, Massachusetts, took no prisoners and went wire to wire with Come And Tell Pap and scored an easy two- length triumph over Current Crisis and driver Bob Krivelin. It marked the third time that these pair pf Bob’s finished one-two in the NAADA trots this season.

When the gate sprung Kenney sent his charge to the lead from the pole position and they trotted through quarters of :29 and :59 rebuffing any and all challenges along the way. Still with a one-length lead as they passed the third stanza Come and Tell Me Pap scooted off to a three length lead as they headed for home and at the wire Kenny’s trotter was  two-lengths better than Krivelin’s, Current Crisis.  Zorgwijk Impact rallied from far back to garner the show dough for Joe Pennacchio.

“He’s a good horse,” Kenney said referring to Come And Tell Pap after his driving victory. “He won over $40,000 last year but he’s been sick this year. We nurtured him and now he’s coming back strong. He was great today and it was almost like a training trip for him.”

Owned by Kenney’s wife Linda and the Di Stefano and Son Stable and trained by John Di Stefano Come And Tell Pap won his first race this season and returned an $11.40 win mutuel.

However, Krivelin made amends in the second NAADA trot when his Permanent Joy held on for a nose triumph over a persistent Aventure, who was driven by Tony Ciuffetelli. But after the judges reviewed the race they found a racing infraction by Ciufettelli and his horse was placed out of the money.

Krivelin sent Permanent Joy to the front from the two-hole and they took charge in a :29 first quarter. From there Krivelin kept the pedal to the metal and his trotter showed the way through a :57.4 half. After they passed the third stanza in 1:27.3, Aventure, who was menacing Permanent Joy throughout the mile, staged a late charged but came up a nose short. And it was all for naught as Ciuffettelli’s trotter was dis-qualified.

Woody, driven by Joe Lee, was moved up to second place and I’m Fabulous was granted the show dough for driver Tony Verruso.

“My horse races best when he’s on top and  although we went to some fast early fractions he was still strong enough to hold on for the win,” Krivelin explained and then added that this was the only time that Permanent Joy has had a harness on him since his last race on July 22nd.

“He lives out in a paddock at my farm and for exercise we tow him behind another horse when we jog,” Krivelin added. “He (Permanent Joy) seems to really like this routine.”

Owned by Krivelin’s Hero Stable and trained by Krivelin, Permanent Joy paid $11.60 for win.

NJ UShWA To Honor Contributions of SBOA-NJ's Leo McNamara

Ken Weingartner for NJ USHWA

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- July 28, 2016 – The late Leo C. McNamara III, a third generation horseman and longtime executive administrator of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, will be recognized for his contributions to racing in the Garden State with the Distinguished Service Award from the New Jersey chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association on Saturday, July 30 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

McNamara’s wife, Cathy, will accept the award, which will be presented in the winner’s circle. McNamara passed away on June 12 just two weeks shy of his 61st birthday.

“Leo’s contributions to harness racing in New Jersey are immeasurable,” said Moira Fanning president of the NJ USHWA Chapter.  “His loss will be felt in so many ways going forward.”

Born in Indiana, McNamara was the son of Leo McNamara Jr., whose father, Leo, founded Two Gaits Farm in Indiana, where Adios was foaled and the pacing stallion Hal Dale stood at stud.

As a youngster, McNamara spent time at Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania, where his father served as farm superintendent. McNamara later worked at several breeding facilities across the country before re-establishing Two Gaits Farm in New Jersey, where he bred and boarded horses.

In 2001, McNamara began working for the SBOANJ, becoming executive administrator in 2006. During his years with the SBOA-NJ, he worked with racetracks in the Garden State to keep tabs on the purse accounts, becoming an astute expert of analyzing handle from various sources with various percentages going to purses.

Because of his knowledge of the purse account and percentages of handle earned, McNamara played a significant role in Jeff Gural's acquisition of the Meadowlands from the state of New Jersey.

In addition to his wife, McNamara is survived by daughter, Celeste, assistant professor of history at University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom; two stepchildren, Dr. Daniel J. Dooley and Katie Pidge Decker; his mother, Irene; brother, Joe (Meg Booth); sisters, Anne Slosky, Coleen (Frank) Benedett, Bridget (Jeffrey) Fenessy, Kate (David) Smith, Mary Coleman, Kelly (Patrick) Kennedy, Celeste (Brian) O'Neill and Jane (Glenn) Taylor; 14 nieces and nephews; and more than 100 cousins.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Haughton and Doherty Elims at The Meadowlands

East Rutherford, NJ – Racing at The Meadowlands is down to the final two weeks of the Championship Meet and the stars are out on Friday.

The cream of the freshman trotting crop thus far is well represented in two $20,000 elimination races each for the Peter Haughton and Jim Doherty Memorials housing two-year-old colts and fillies respectively. Their collective aim is to make it through to next week’s rich finals on Hambletonian Day, August 6.

The undefeated Rubio takes on six rivals in the fourth race. The tractable son of Cantab Hall has had the right answer each week for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Yannick Gingras, most recently a 1:56.1 Kindergarten score by a widening three lengths. Christina Takter, John & Jim Fielding and Brixton Medical share ownership of Rubio.

The tenth race division fields eight and boasts several precocious colts yearning to advance to the $295,000 final.

Takter has a powerful presence here as well in the Italian bred son of French super horse Ready Cash known as Victor Gio IT. Blessed with tremendous speed, Victor Gio IT went off-stride in his first foray under the lights and will require careful handling. Fortunately, Yannick Gingras is able to provide that guidance for the ownership group of Christina, Takter, Antonio Somma & Frencesco Ruscigno of Italy and Nicolas Pietro De Mitri of Sweden.

He’ll face Ronnie Burke’s What The Hill, winner of the New Jersey Sires Stakes (NJSS) final in 1:55.2 earlier this month. What The Hill has speed on both ends and may have a seasoning edge on his chief rival. Burke Racing, Our Horse Cents and J&T Silva own the imposing son of Muscle Hill.

These Grand Circuit stakes are designed to showcase extreme talent and ideally provide the stage for intriguing match-ups. The fillies for the Doherty split into a pair of eights and if their past performance is any indicator, next week’s $305,000 final has the potential to be one of those races we recall fondly.

The amazing Ariana G is clearly the one to beat in the first division, race two. She’s been nothing short of spectacular thus far, romping to a 1:53.4 win in the NJSS filly final by a widening seven lengths under wraps for Gingras. She’s also a Takter pupil, owned by the breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.

Those same connections will bring another prodigy to the party in race eight with That’s All Moni.  Add George Segal’s storied Brittany Farms to the registration with Mssr’s Katz and Libfeld and you have the group that shelled out $230,000 for this close sibling to the legendary Snow White. She boasts a pair of PA Sires Stakes wins coming in for trainer Takter and the Yannick Gingras may face one of those “difficult” choices a driver must sometimes face if both fillies advance as expected.

Also among the Friday features is a $25,000 Open trot which older stars like Obrigado, JL Cruze and Hannelore Hanover will use as a springboard into supporting Free For All stakes on the Hambletonian card.

For the horseplayer, we offer a free look into the $50,000 Guaranteed Late Pick 4 wagers each week.

Come on along and see the best of the best battle for the big money at The Meadowlands. Post time is 7:15 p.m.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Carol Hodes for NJ USHWA

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- July 27, 2016 -- The memory of Ray Brienza, the dean of harness racing reporters in New Jersey, will be commemorated by the New Jersey chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association with the installation of a print of his Communicators Hall of Fame portrait on Saturday, July 30, 2016 in the press box at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Brienza was a writer and columnist for the Star-Ledger for nearly 40 years, as well as the associate dean emeritus for admissions at New York University's School of Medicine.  He passed away on Friday, November 6, 2015.  He was 80.

While attending Rutgers-Newark, Brienza began covering harness racing at Newark's Weequahic Park in the 1950s for the now-defunct Newark News.  He assumed the harness racing beat at the Star-Ledger in 1972 when the News folded, reporting and handicapping for nearly 40 years.

“Ray loved harness racing and provided daily coverage for the sport for many years in one of the state’s largest newspapers,” said Moira Fanning, president of the NJ USHWA Chapter.  “He was a respected and knowledgeable reporter and a press box fixture every night the Meadowlands raced.”      

Brienza won three John Hervey Awards, as well as the 2004 President's Award from the United States Harness Writers Association, for writing excellence, and his contributions were recognized by that group in 2007, when he was inducted into its Communicators Hall of Fame in Goshen, NY.

Brienza had a concurrent career in higher education, spending 31 years at the NYU School of Medicine as its associate dean of admissions and financial aid before retiring in 2004.  NYU established the Raymond J. Brienza Scholarship Fund to support needy students of high academic merit.

Born in Newark, Brienza lived in South Orange, NJ for nearly 50 years.  He was married to his wife, Una for 43 years until her passing in 2002.  They had six children and six grandchildren.


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

YONKERS, NY, Wednesday, July 27, 2016—A friendly reminder from Yonkers Raceway that Thursday night’s (July 28) Pick 5 wager begins with a bit of a carryover, as in $1,205.68.

The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base wager comprising races 7 through 11 during every racing program. It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Tuesday afternoon), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next program. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Buffalo Raceway Shows Gain In Daily Handle

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. --- With the 2016 season now in the books, Buffalo Raceway showed an increased of three percent on the daily handle for the 88 day campaign.

"We're holding our own for the entertainment dollar with all the casinos in the area and account wagering opportunities," Buffalo Raceway Director of Operations Jon Cramer said in describing the recently completed meet.

"The three percent increase is another positive sign," he added.

The Pick-5 wager was a new addition in 2016 on the Buffalo Raceway wagering menu and was a big success. "It was very well received," Cramer said and noted that the average payoff was nearly $1,000.

In the year-end awards announced on closing day, That Horse JD was named the Pacer Of The Year at Buffalo Raceway.

Co-owned by Tessa Roland and Thomas Mazzone, That Horse JD won 12-of-24 starts in 2016 and earned $57,760. Trained by JD Perrin, That Horse JD (Rustler Hanover-Art Of The Sea) was claimed in four consecutive weeks in June but continued to produce victories along the way.

Noble Legend was selected Trotter Of The Year thanks to six wins in 20 starts including a track record of 1:56.3 set on June 10, establishing a new mark for 4-year-old geldings. Owned by Vogel & Wags Nags Stable along with Jack Rice, the Maria Rice trained Noble Legend (Kadabra-Lovin It) was in the money 13 out of 20 starts at the Hamburg half-mile oval, earning $35,488.

JD Perrin won the Trainer Of The Year award after putting up 106 victories in just 309 starts. It was the second most wins by a conditioner in Buffalo Raceway history. Sherri Holliday holds the mark of 122 set in 2011.

It was the fourth straight season that Perrin has topped the trainer's rankings in wins.

Perrin has an incredible Universal Training Rating of .398 and has earned $460,494 on the campaign. He currently sits in third place for UTR for trainers with 300-499 starts nationally and is tenth overall in the United States in wins with 106.

Maria Rice finished in second place in the trainer's standings with 54 victories while John Mungillo was third with 52 wins.

Jim Morrill Jr. won his first driving title at Buffalo Raceway since he captured the crown in 2006 when he posted 214 victories.

While driving just part-time at Buffalo Raceway, Morrill Jr. made the most of his starts with 131 wins in just 338 appearances to get Driver of the Year honors. He had seven trips to the winner's circle on four different occasions in 2016.

Morrill Jr. won at a 39 percent rate and had a Universal Driving Rating of .532. He also led the way in purse earnings with $720,581.

Todd Cummings finished the season in second place in the driver's standings with 106 victories while Kevin Cummings was third with 95 despite missing several months of action with a broken arm.

All award winners will be honored for their accomplishments in January, 2017.

The post time favorites won at a 44 percent clip on the year.

Simulcasting will be held during the off-season at Buffalo Raceway with the current schedule showing only Tuesday the only day dark until the conclusion of the Saratoga meet.

For more information including the simulcast schedule, the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to

Monday, July 25, 2016

Historic Marker and Dedication at the former site of the Copperthite Racetrack

By Fred Hudson

Sunday July, 31 2016 there will be a Historic Marker and Dedication at the former site of the Copperthite Racetrack also known as the Burke Station Racetrack in Burke, Virginia. The former racetrack which was built in 1908 is now the site of the Burke Nursery and Garden Centre.   

The track was built by Henry Copperstite who at that time owned the largest pie company in the country and for that fact was known as the "King of Pie". The track conducted it's first harness race on July 4th 1908 and was considered one of the finest half mile tracks of it's day. One of the judges that day was William Miller who would later be the founder of Rosecroft Raceway. It had a grandstand that seated 2,000 spectators with a seventy five stalls each 12 x 12 that housed horses owned by President William McKinley, Jr. and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

At the dedication there will be a harness race demonstration by Betsy Brown and a question and answers segment conducted by Freddie Hudson along with fund raising efforts for the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.

The local Washington DC press will be covering the dedication and attending the event will be Politician's, Copperthite family members, Fairfax County History Commission and the Burke Historical Society.

Festivities start at 9:30 and include
Model T Ford auto show
Music by: "King Street Bluegrass"
Exhibition harness race with Betsy Brown
Period dress and reenactments
Harness racing Q & A with Freddie Hudson
Blacksmith display
Kid activities including USTA coloring books
SRF fund raising
Pies from the Copperthite Pie Company
and much more.

For more information please contact

20 Fillies Force Two Hambletonian Oaks elims for Sat., July 30

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Twenty fillies entered today for the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks, the filly division of the Hambletonian.
Hambletonian Festival week kicks off on July 30 with two $50,000 eliminations to narrow the field to 10 for the $500,000 Oaks Final on Hambletonian Day, Sat., Aug. 6, at The Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, NJ.

Favorite in the field will be Dan Patch divisional Champion Broadway Donna, a daughter of 2007 Hambletonian winner Donato Hanover and 2009 Oaks winner Broadway Schooner. Owned by Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farms and trained by Jim Campbell, Broadway Donna has made just three starts this year, with 2 wins and a second. She prevailed by a gritty half-length in her division of the Del Miller Memorial over All The Time and Celebrity Eventsy  on July 16 at The Meadowlands.

The other Miller Memorial division featured a rare deadheat between Unica Steed and Woman’s Will. Those two will match up again in the same Oaks elimination along with Ontario Sires Stake star Caprice Hill, making her first pari-mutuel Meadowlands appearance after racking up more than $578,696 north of the border.

Swedish trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt entered a total of five fillies in the Oaks elims. Jimmy Takter has three representatives, including Unica Steed, a daughter of 1998 Hambletonian winner Muscles Yankee and Premier Steed by Workaholic. Unica Steed was foaled in Italy, sired in France and is owned by French stable Ecurie AB Trot, and yet has American trotting blood coursing through both sides of her pedigree. 
$50,000 Oaks Elim for Sat., July 30
Post Position
Ake Svanstedt
Ake Svanstedt
Staffan Lind
John Campbell
Jeff Gregory
Jeff Gregory
Chris Oakes
Brett Miller
Jimmy Takter
Yannick Gingras
Tony Alagna
Tim Tetrick
Jimmy Takter
Brett Miller
Jim Campbell
David Miller
Jonas Czernyson
Scott Zeron
Ake Svanstedt

$50,000 Oaks Elim for Sat., July 30
Post Position
Jonas Czernyson
Corey Callahan
Jimmy Takter
Tim Tetrick
Michael Eaton
Brian Sears
Linda Toscano
John Campbell
Tony Alagna
Tim Tetrick
Ake Svanstedt
Ake Svanstedt
Julie Miller
Andy Miller
Ake Svanstedt
Ake Svanstedt
Ake Svanstedt
Ake Svanstedt
Paul Reid
Yannick Gingras

The top five finishers in each elim will advance to the final on Aug. 6. Elimination winners draw for inside posts 1-5 and all other finalists will then be placed in an open draw. The winner of the final on Aug. 6 is the Oaks winner, regardless of elimination finish on July 30.
Entries for the Hambletonian close at 9:00 a.m. on Aug. 1 at The Meadowlands race office.

Post positions for the $500,000 final will be drawn and morning lines assigned on Monday Aug. 1, at the Hambletonian Press conference and post-positions draw, at 4:00 p.m. in Victory Sports Bar at The Meadowlands. The draw will be streamed live on the Meadowlands web site.

The $300,000 John Cashman Jr. Memorial, $284,000 Cane Pace, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian will be featured on a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. [EDT] on Aug. 6.

Hambletonian Day is closing day with a post time of 12:00 noon, and the zenith of the Championship Meet. Fans can follow the next two action-filled weekends at, and on Twitter at #Hambo16.