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Saturday, July 29, 2017


Oh,  if only Joe Faraldo knew how  many times he had to go around on the half mile track in a mile and a quarter race  perhaps he could have won two races tonight(July 28) at Cesena and boosted the USA’s chances to at least make things closer in the Italian-American Challenge. But thank  goodness for Tony Verruso and Alan Schwartz yelling out “Joe, we got a another round to go,” did Joe start to drive again before  pulling up thinking he had won”.

In the end the very heavy  favorite driven by one of the three Italian champions they threw at the Americans, just buggy rode  past a newly awakened Faraldo who ended –up second” said Alan Schwartz who garnered the show dough in that contest.

 But Faraldo’s mistake was indeed costly. But truthfully, no one was beating the Italian champion  even with a fautless drive. Verruso and Ciufettelli faced a wall of blocking Italians who demonstrated the art of team racing and how to measure points.

 In the next race, at a one mile distance, Joe once  again found the front with “Only One Diamond”  and he backed into every challenger over a measured first half and then poured on the gas for a  faster  last  half to win for the second time in the six race USA-Italy Challenge. Tony Verruso, the Billings capo finished third after a little traffic trouble.

 All in  all, the lost ground on day one  couldn’t be made up but the American team was valiant  in their efforts in the last four races of the challenge.

“The Italians put a hurtin on us early as we  got acclimated to their driving style and we had to wade through the myriad of  detailed instructions” said Alan Schwartz, the American with the most wins of any US competing amateur today. 

After all was said and done, the Italians, from Moretti, Ruffato, Zorretto, the brothers Mecheloto and Stefano De Lano could not have been more understanding and accommodating to their American friends.

Touring Venice and Padova, a  trip to the most famous Scuderia of the  Biauzzi , to the he most enjoyable lunches and dinners at some of the finest restaurants in the Veneto region, especially the Villa Italia, in Padova the Italians treated their visitors like royalty sparing  no expense  to make team America feel most welcome just as the French had  recently for  a team of Americans in May. 

The intent now  is to have the  Italians come to America, perhaps around the time of the famed  Hambletonian in August of 2018 for a rematch and hopefully for America,  some final revenge.

Truly making friends abroad, cultivating interest in our product and hoping to see a renaissance in Italy’s harness racing as well as worldwide, takes work nothing else suffices. Many of the Italians are still interested in American blood and also wish to see the books of America and France opened for the betterment of the sport.

According to Joe Faraldo, “ when you hear Italian or other languages spoken at a US sale,  like Harrisburgh or Lexington, remember these are people who  love our sport and in Italy they are demonstrating much patience and love for the sport as you can see from the note below,  and how they are all coping with a less than ideal situation.

'An interesting aside to the Italian trip concerns the Hippodromo (racetrack in Padova ) which because of the government’s pull back of support for the industry, initially was just shut down. But then after three years it reopened with a disco open every evening with  live music to attract young people despite racing only two days a week. On those two days the food at the track is free, but for drinks you must pay.  There is outdoor seating with umbrellas at each table and areas some  for children to play. As one might imagine attendance is up and so is wagering. In short, the track has been resurrected from the dead. 

The government still has the industry in a state of limbo and the horsemen have to wait seven months to get paid purse money and there’s always the chance in Italy, that it might never happen. Like horsemen all over the world who keep this game going, those in Italy are survivors, because they truly love this sport."

In Cesana, the track was so  soft and perfect for the horses, not so much just for the timer. One could not hear these beautiful animals as they navigated this half mile oval near the sea. While we will not be there Saturday evening we are told the place is  sold out.  Apparently they are still doing somethings very, very right.”