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Wednesday, May 24, 2017


by john manzi for the Billings Series

Harness racing’s greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved north of the border to Mohawk Racerack on Monday evening, May 22 for two trotting divisions; the first won by Steve “You’re Never Too” Oldford with Musical Spell in 1:58.4 and the second by “Racin Jason” Sgrignuoli up behind Bella Pelazzo in 1:56.3.

By all accounts Oldford is a very dedicated amateur driver having just returned from Italy after an amateur driving competition against the Italians where he won an event and had three seconds in the USA loss to their Italian counterparts.
And saying Oldford just returned couldn’t be more accurate because he didn’t arrive in Toronto until  2AM this Monday morning(May 22) and by 7:30pm he was in the sulky and hustled Musical Spell to a gate to wire victory over  Fork  who was driven by “Gentle Ben” Hollingswort.

“I had driven few horses for Mr. Guitard (Musical Spell's trainer)  years ago and though he told me Musical Spell hadn’t been racing well I nevertheless  hustled him to the lead from the nine-hole and he raced really well for me tonight,”Oldford said via telephone.

“After a:28.2 first quarter I stole a few fractions  and we got to  the three quarters in 1:28.3 and embraced for the challengers.”

“Tough Tony” Ciuffetelli had Overcomebyvictory on Musical Spell’s throat-latch at the third stanza but Musical Spell soon  put him away. Then  Fork and “Gentle Ben” Hollingswort came out of  a hole and  was charging in the lane but Musical Spell showed some grit and hung on for a neck victory over Fork. Third place went to Tortola Sunrise driven by :Hurricane Hannah Miller. Overcomebyvictory ended up fourth.

It was the ninth seasonal victory for Oldford who had been racing in the amateur series at Pompano Park in South Florida. The former National Amateur Driver of Year (2013) now has 125 career victories.

Sent off as the second choice in the 10-horse field Musical Spell paid $7.10.

In the second split Sgrignuoli sent his trotter to the lead and was content with a two-hole journey  behind Silence Son, with “Buffalo Bob” Davis at the controls. That lasted until  Hannah Miller came calling with Lexis Rocky up the backside who then circled Bella Palazzo. But Hannah’s charge could sustain the lead and Sgrignuoli got his trotting mare up  for a neck victory over Lexis Rocky in 1:56.3. Third place went to Presquille driven by Tony Ciuffetelli. Silence Son on faded and finished fourth.

Bella Palazzo paid $11.20 for win and for Sgrignuoli it was is eighth lifetime driving victory.

Next Billings action will be at Northfield Park on Wednesday, May 24.