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The ever-traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, now in its second half of the 2017 harness racing season, made a stop at Saratoga Harness on Saturday evening, August 19 and 'homeboy' "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli made short work of the contest when he rallied EJ's Last Dance to a come-from-behind victory over five others in a 1:59 clocking. Ciuffetelli, a former corrections officer, got away slowly from the four-hole and sat back off a torrid early pace with the 5-year-old Conway Hall trotting mare They were sixth and last at the first stanza some eight lengths off the leader, Shez All Muscles in rein to "Buffalo Bob" Davis , as the timer flashed :28. Davis's trotter was still in command at the halfway point in :57.2 as EJ's Last Dance moved up a position, but still seven lengths in the rears. When the field straightened up the backside the second time around "Tough Tony" asked his mare for more and she responded when he moved her three-deep to range alongside the leaders. But from there it was 'Katie bar the door' as EJ's Last Dance rallied to a 1-1/2 victory. With a strong finish in the stretch Windsun Fireball and "Yankee Joe" Lee got up for the place money. And although Billings president, Tony the Capo" Verruso, and Sam's Honeybee had the shortest trip the veteran mare didn't fire in the lane and they had to settle for third place. "I figured that there would be early speed so I wanted to sit back a bit. But there were gaps between the (racing) horses that I didn't figure on so I moved earlier than I had planned," Ciufettelli said via telephone after the race. "And once I got my mare in high gear she caught the leaders and she was the strong horse down the stretch to win it easily." Sent off as the odds-on favorite the winner paid $3.00 for win. EJ's Last Dance is owned and trained by Brett Derue. It was her third seasonal victory. And for Ciufettelli, it marked his sixth seasonal driving victory and the 47th of his amateur career. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

On Saturday evening, August 12 the granddaddy of all amateur organizations, the CKG Billings Harness Racing Driving Series, embarked on the second half of its 36th season with a race in both the mid-western and eastern regions making it one of the few times that a contest in each division went to post at different racetracks just minutes apart. Scioto Downs hosted the mid-western trot which was won by Ned "the Insurance Man" Hodkinson behind Mutinyonthebounty in a 1:57.3 clocking over Columbus, Ohio's five-eighths mile oval .Later that evening at Vernon Downs in New York State David "Poppa" Glasser copped the eastern event with Celebrity Stimulus in a time of 1:56. And strangely, each victory was produced in wire-to-wire fashion. At 6:57pm the wings of the mobile starting gate folded at Scioto Downs and Ned Hodkinson fired his trotter away from post seven and they had command at the quarter in :28.2. With never a serious challenge Hodkinson and Mutinyonthebounty had things their own way and despite the betting favorite, Star Chip and driver Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel, drafting along in the catbirds seat when the field headed for paydirt Mutinyonthebounty hung tough and scored a one-length triumph over Star Chip. Michelle "the Belle" Ruvola took home the show dough with Upfront Chip Daddy. Dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of over 11-1 Mutinyonthebounty scored his first seasonal triumph and returned a $25.80 mutuel. Hodkinson , who owns the 8-year-old Mutineer gelding, doubles as the horse's trainer. Meanwhile, at 7:36pm in Vernon, NY David Glasser used the front end for an easy victory with Celebrity Stimulus. After starting from the four-hole Glasser sent his trotter to the lead in a swift :27 first stanza with Dien "the Dream" Spriggs hot on their tails with the betting favorite, Garlandandpearls. The two leaders raced one-two by the half and the three quarters but when Celebrity Stimulus headed for the finish line he drew away and coasted home an easy four-length winner. Garlandandpearls was second best with Peoplesayingimnogood finishing third for Scott "the Driving Doctor" Woogen. The winner,a veteran 7-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall, is owned by Glasser Racing LLC and trained by Homer Hochstetler. He paid $6.00. Next up in Billings action will be in the east region at Saratoga Raceway on Saturday August 19. By John Manzi for the CKG Billings Series

It's been a long time between pots for Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel but tonight (July 29) at the Summit Fair at Northfield Park he turned the tables on his harness racing competition and drove impressively when he went down the road with Star Chip and turned back seven others in a 1:58.2 trotted mile. Although the harness racing executive has had only three driving victories since 2009 he was among the top drivers in the Billings Amateur Driving Series where he had won over 100 races prior to devoting the majority of his time to the racing departments at various racetracks in the Midwest. However, to be fair, Keidel hasn't driven many times in recent years (only 32 since 2009) and only does when he can get away from the racing office. Tonight in greater Cleveland, he was a perfect fit behind the Kurt Sugg-trainee and Keidel wasted no time sending his charge to the lead when the gate sprung. And despite nearly half the field stuck on the limb in the early going Keidel got Star Chip by the first panel in a relatively soft 30.1. The 'limbed' horses didn't keep the pressure on Star Chip and Keidel was able to get away with another :30.2 quarter. However, from there it was Katey bar the door as Keidel stepped on the gas and Star Chip trotted away with a :28.4 third panel and then added another .29.1 quarter to coast home a three-length winner over Upfront Chip Daddy and driver "Michelle the Belle" Ruvola which gave the offspring of the veteran stallion Chip Chip Hooray first and second money in the contest. Third place went to Strong Hope ,driven by "Lawbook Larry" Farley. Owned by Rebecca Sugg ,Star Chip won for the fifth time this year and paid $6.20 for win. For "Fast Greggy" it was his 103rd driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

The Midwest region of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series moved back to harness racing roots on July 24th when five members ventured to the double oval at the Fowlerville (Michigan) Family Fair for a trotting contest and when the judges hung the official Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford was victorious with The Budster in a time of 2:03.3. The 12 year old altered son of Broadway Hall notched his fourth seasonal victory and the 46th of the veteran trotter's illustrious career. The Budster pretty much had things his own way after leaving from the two hole. Oldford used the front-end en route to victory over Gespacho and driver"Jerry the Jet" Mihelic while third place went to Truth In Action with Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel at the controls. It was a reunion of sorts for Oldford and The Budster.who are together again after a long hiatus. "During his 3-year old season we (Oldford Racing) had owned The Budster and we won the Old Oaken Bucket with him at Delaware, Ohio that year.," Oldford related. "He had raced real well for us and we sold him after his 3 year old season. "Jessica Schroeder, now with the USTA, used to rub The Budster when Pete Foley was training him for us back then. Late last year Jessica called and told me that The Budster was headed to the Amish and since the old guy was so good to us way back when I decided to buy him and race him in the amateur series in Florida this past winter," Oldford explained "And we even won a few races together at Pompano (Park) earlier this year." Oldford was excited to tell The Budster story and even more excited about the way the old fellow trotted to victory Monday night at the Fowlerville Fair. "Although his recent form hasn't been real good he was super tonight at Fowlerville. So much so that I may even drive him in some future Billings races," Oldford said jubilantly. By John Manzi for the Billing Series

How do you stop her? That's probably a question that many harness racing Amateur drivers are asking. Now for the second consecutive night at Yonkers Raceway "Hurricane Hannah" Miller again emerged victorious over her competition when she guided Hidden Identity to a gate to wire triumph in the $15,000 Billings east region semi-final. The previous evening, over the same Yonkers double oval, the talented miss won the seventh leg of the NAADA spring trotting series.and will finish as the top point earner in that eight week two track series. However, tonight at the Westchester County double oval the Billings mid-season semi final in the east region was up for grabs and Hannah drove aggressively after starting from the eight-hole. She gunned the Tom Milici-trained Hidden Identity for the lead despite starting on the far outside. and half-way around the first turn Hannah's charge was in front and they led the field by the first stanza:29.1. "The starter let us go sooner which certainly helped the outside horses and we made the top relatively easy since my horse left like a runner," Hannah related via telephone as she headed to the airport to catch a plane to Illinois the see her grandma who is recuperating from knee surgery. Once on top Hidden Identity coasted along relatively unchallenged until the field headed up the backside. When they approached the third stanza "Coach Paul" Minore tipped Wygant Prince and they began to chase down Hidden Identity. As the two leaders trotted into the final turn Wygant Prince had collared Hidden Identity and they raced side by side around the turn and were just noses apart at the top of the lane. "We got away with easy fractions and my horse wasn't tired and when we straightened for home he shifted gears and began to trot away from Wygant Prince and we won it by length in 2:00.2," Hannah said. Third place went to Landonfitz and driver Dave "Steady as" Yarock. By John Manzi for the Billings Series

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to Saratoga Raceway for a trotting contest on July 9th and when it was over newcomer Evan "Hoagy" Hoagland emerged victorious with Tapit in a 1:58.2 clocking. Earlier this year "Hoagy" was driving in qualifying races in order to earn the right to compete in pari-mutuel races. and after showing his abilities the judges granted him a provisional license. With 14 previous pari-mutuel drives where he garnered four seconds and three thirds his 15th drive was a charm for the 21-year-old. when his first pari-mutuel win came in the Billings trot at his home track in upstate New York.. Sent off as second choice from the four hole in today's eight horse contest Hoagland found room along the pylons in third position before the field trotted by the first panel in a swift :27.4. As the field headed to the halfway point in :57.3 Hoagland moved Tapit first-up and progressed toward the lead which they finally gained as the three quarter timer flashed l:27.2. When the field headed for paydirt Tapit was well in charge and coasted home an easy four-length winner. Despite road trouble "Bay State Bob" Kenney and Top of Page came from fifth the three quarters and negotiated their way clear to rally for second money. Third place went to the betting favorite, The Franchise, driven by Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. In winning the Billings trot today Tapit paid $8.00. She scored a seasonal best clocking and increased her lifetime earnings to over $102,000. The 6-year-old Justice Hall mare is owned by Hoagland Racing LLC and trained by Kyle Spagnola . by John Manzi for the Billings Series

The ever-traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series was on the move again on Wednesday night (June 5) where harness racing members of the mid-west region convened in greater Cleveland, Ohio for a trotting contest at Northfield Park. The well contested event turned out to be a barn-burner with three horses battling head-to-head down the stretch for supremacy and when the judges hung the official sign, Song In My Heart and driver "Tiny Tim," Miller emerged victorious by a neck, over Heza Rube and Bob "the Lumberman" Troyer in a 1:59.2 clocking. It was the second time this season that Tim Miller and the 6-year-old altered son of Cantab Hall combined for a victory. Their first triumph together was on May 24th also at Northfield Park when they vanquished an eight-horse field in a 2:01.1 clocking and strangely Heza Rube was second to the winner that night, too. Last night Song In My Heart was hustled away from the starting gate and fell into the two-hole behind Patricia "the Write Stuff" Miller who gunned Keep The Cash to the lead from the pole position. They raced one-two past the quarter in :29.4 and by the half in 1:00.2. As they approached the third stanza Troyer and Heza Rube charged at the leaders as the timer flashed 1:29.4. And when they rounded the final turn the real battle for paydirt ensued as Song In My Heart ,Heza Rube and Keep the Cash battled all the way to the wire. But the pace-setter emerged victorious over Heza Rube with Keep The Cash right there in the three-horse photo. Owned by Bert Hershberger and trained by J D Wengerd Song In My Heart was sent off sent off as the betting favorite and returned $4.20 for win. For "Tiny Tim" Miller it was his second seasonal winning drive in as many starts and now the Wilmot, Ohio resident has 41 career driving victories. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

For 36 years the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series has been, and still is, considered the Grand Circuit of Amateur Harness Racing, not only for its traveling roadshow but for bringing amateur racing to the forefront. And because of the series' success over the years amateur driving clubs now dot the harness racing landscape in North America. Yesterday, (Fri. June 23), two races were contested at Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ontario, Can. and tonight (June 24) the Billings Series moved back to the States with a race at Tioga Downs. and when that event was finalized David "Poppa" Glasser made it look easy when he guided his Celebrity Stimulus to a 1:57.4 victory over six rivals. When the official starter said 'go' Glasser hustled his trotter to the lead from the seven-hole and they had command at the first stanza in :28.2. With just a short breather Celebrity Stimulus led his competition by the halfway point in :58 seconds flat. Up the backside Glasser let his charge ramble and they had five lengths on the field as they passed the three quarters in 1:27.1 . From there it was catch me if you can and nobody could as Glasser and veteran trotter coasted home a 3-1/4-length winner. Tony "the Capo" Verruso came from far back with Sam's Honeybee to garner the place money and Jelectric finished third for "Buffalo Bob" Davis, who, by the way, returned to the States after he raced in the Billings at Grand River Raceway on last night. Needless to say, after the race Glasser was a happy man and responded with this email: "I've had Stim parked and been unable to get him to the front where he likes it best. Tonight we were able to get there. In the third quarter I tried to open up some distance and tonight we had the racing luck and he was ready. Team Butenschoen always sends him ready to go, I just am not always able to get him his best trip. Tonight I was!" For the president of a litigation support company it was his third winner this season and his 35th of his amateur driving career. Glasser owns the 7-year-old Cantab Hall gelding who paid $4.80 for win. John Butenschoen is the horse's trainer. Next Billings action will be at the Cradle of the Trotter on Monday, July 3rd over Goshen's Historic Track. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

The granddaddy of all amateur harness racing organizations, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, moved north of the border on Friday night, June 23, for two contests at Grand River Raceway in Elora, Ontario. The first, a trot, saw Sherwin "the Magician" Edwards rein Willyorwonthe to a 1:58.4 triumph while the second, a pace, went to Shane "the Freelton Flash" Arsenault and Lulu's Boy in a 1:58.2 clocking. Being that the Billings races were in Canada most of the participating drivers were Canadian except for Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford and "Buffalo Bob" Davis. In his contest Sherwin Edwards sent Willyorwonthe to the lead from the three-hole and quickly gained command and in doing so he played hardball with Natasha "Lady" Day who was up behind the betting favorite Hldontghtoyurdrms. Edwards parked her through fractions of :28.1; :58.1 and 1:28.2 until Ms. Day's trotter began to get leg weary after they passed the third stanza. However, Willyorwonthe still had on his trotting shoes and began to draw clear of the competition. When the field straightened for home Shane Arsenault and Lexis DJ who were traveling along with cover, took aim at the leader after enjoying a two-hole journey. But Edwards' trotter was up to the task and he rebuffed the challenge and charged home a 1-3/4 length victor over Lexis DJ. Hldontghttoyurdreams held on for the show dough. The winner, an altered 4-year-old son of Angus Hall, is owned and trained by William Megens. He returned a $6.60 mutuel to his backers. In the pacing contest, Shane Arsenault aped Sherwin Edwards' journey in the first event and sent Lulu's Boy down the road and they made every pole a winning one. Although pressured in the deep stretch Arsenault's pacer dug in and held off a late charge by Bet on Art and driver by Dave "Modern Legend" Drew. Every Girl's Desire, with Brent Hollingsworth is the pilot's seat, rambled home two lengths behind the winner in third place. The veteran 10 year-old Art Major Gelding is owned by Louis Sorella and Gene Miller and trained by Robert Fellows. He paid $9/90 for win. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Score one for the president... the Billings president, that is. At Monticello Raceway on the ides of June Billings Series president, Tony "the Capo" Verruso. took no prisoners en route to a gate to wire 2:00.2 victory with Flirting Duezy in an east region haarness racing Billings trot. When the starter said 'go' Verruso hustled the 8-year-old Victory Sam mare to the lead and kept moving to allow the trailing horses to find a spot along the pylons. After leading the field by the first quarter in:29:2 Verruso let his mare have her head and she trotted the next quarter in 31 seconds which kept anyone from moving out to challenge her lead. They had two lengths on the field as Flirting Duezy trotted by the third stanza in 1:30.2 and when the field headed for home she was still the strong horse and rebuffed a late charge by The Franchise and driver Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. She's All Muscles finished third for "Buffalo Bob" Davis. "Knowing that my mare is quick off the gate I sent her to the front and tried to get the trailing horses in line behind us. And it worked out just like I planned. She's game on the lead. Back in mid-May, while on the engine, she won handily in 1:58.3", Verruso said after race. Owned by Betsy Phillips and Carl Gillespie and trained by Gillespie, Flirting Duezy was dismissed by the betting public and paid $22.60 for win. For the current Billings president it was his 67th career driving victory. Also on the June 15th card, another talented female driver, Monica Banca, bided her time and then rallied Fox Valley Leo to a 1:58.3 victory in the Catskill Amateur Club Pace. "I had a good trip," Banca said when she returned to the paddock after her victory. She gunned her pacer to the lead from the five-hole and then allowed Joe Lee and TKR'S Metro Specs to take command before the first quarter timer flashed :28.3. With Lee's pacer showing the way and Banca's pacer snug in the two hole ,they raced one-two until the final strides in the deep stretch when Fox Valley Leo rallied down the passing lane to a head triumph over TKR's Metro Specs. Kennanskingwilliam was third for Jerry Fielding. "I was glad to let Joe's horse take the lead and sit behind him," Banca added. "And I think because I had cover my horse was the strongest at the end of the mile." Fox Valley Leo is owned and trained by Rick Dane. The 7-year-old Yankee Skyscraper gelding paid $12.60 for win. And for the Norwegian-born Banca it was her third driving victory in just four seasonal starts by John Manzi for the Billings Series and the Catskill Amateur Club's race

Now in its 36th season, harness racing's greatest traveling sideshow, the C.K.G. Billings Amateur Driving Series, moved on to the mile track at the Meadowlands on Friday, June 9 for a contest in the weries eastern region and when the judges posted the results of that race Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinhans emerged victorious with Toss Cartwright in a 1:56.2 clocking. Although Kleinhans is a member of multiple amateur clubs and has driven abroad in many amateur events his victory tonight marks his first win as a member of the Billings Series. And one could surmise that his win came as a result of patience. When the wings of the mobile gate closed Kleinhans floated away to a slow start from the six-hole and found no spots along the pylons. But as the field headed to the halfway point "Hurricane Hannah" Miller moved the betting favorite, Pine Tab, out to challenge for the lead which gave Kleinhans veteran 6-year old cover as the field headed up the backside. By the third stanza Pine Tab had taken command with Toss Cartwright in hot pursuit. When they rounded the last turn and headed for home Pine Tab had a length lead which was slowly diminishing as the leaders headed for paydirt. In the deep stretch Toss Cartwright mounted a late surge and got up for a head victory over Pine Tab. In third place, five lengths behind the winner, was Keystone Thomas, driven by Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff. It was the second seasonal victory for Toss Cartwright who raised his lifetime earnings to nearly $125,000. John McDermott, Jr. trains the 6-year-old Muscles Yankee gelding for owner Collen Cash. For the multi-talented Kleinhans it was his 53rd career driving victory. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

"The Lumberman" and his trusty steed are at it again. After a slow start this season Bob "Lumberman" Troyer and Heza Rube were once again in the harness racing winner's circle after they scored a 1:57.3 victory in the $5000 midwest region Billings Trot on Friday night (June 2) at Scioto Downs. It was both the horse's and driver's first win this year and despite being one of the toughest horses in their division last season Heza Rube was dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of over 9-1. After staring cautiously from the two-hole Troyer eased his trotter away from the gate and allowed Dave "Linemaster" Ehrenberg and TK's Jelly Belly to take command and lead the field by a :28.3 first quarter. No sooner had the field settled than Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford moved favored Ponda's Lexus to the front and they were in command before the :57.0 half. Meanwhile Troyer sat chilly and watched the race developing in front of him and when the field headed for the third stanza Troyer had Heza Rube out and going and they circled the leaders as the three quarter timer flashed 1:27.4. Once on top Troyer and Heza Rube opened up a three length lead as they rounded the final turn and they were well in command as the field headed for paydirt. Ponda's Lexus was still in second place at that point but he was overtaken for the place money by Catch Jessie (Gregg "Fast Greggy" Keidel). But nobody was catching Heza Rube as the Master Lavec gelding trotted on to a five length victory, the veteran 7-year-old's 25th of his stellar career. Owned by Troyer and trained by Marty Wollam, Heza Rube paid $21.00 for win and upped his lifetime earnings to nearly $224,000 And for Troyer it was his 83rd winning drive of his amateur career. Next Billings action will be on Friday, June 9th at The Meadowlands. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, "Hurricane Hannah" Miller, blew away her competition in the Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (June 1) when she guided Hidden Identity to an oh-so-easy gate to wire harness racing victory over six others in a 2:00.2 clocking Unfazed by starting on the far outside from post seven, Miller hustled her charge to the front as the wings of the mobile starting gate folded and they had command even before the first turn. "He's a real nice horse to drive and I didn't have to do much other than just give him his head and we were on top almost immediately" Hannah said After a :29.2 first stanza Hidden Identity seemed to be on cruise control as the 10 year old altered son of Angus Hall had the field lined-up behind him and none of the trailing horses were game enough to take a shot at the leader in a 1:00.3 first half. As the field headed up the backside for the second time Billings president Tony "the Capo" Verruso had Sam's Honeybee tight on Hannah's back and they raced one-two by the third stanza in 1:30.4. But after that it was Katie bar the door as Hidden Identity began to open daylight on the field. At the top of the lane Hannah had two lengths on the rest of the field which her trotter effortlessly opened to five at the wire.in a 2:00.2 clocked mile "Even though he was so strong throughout the mile when we headed for home I still pulled the (ear) plugs but I really didn't have to. We were easily home free" Ms. Miller said. Sam's Honeybee held on for second money while Wygant Prince , driven by "Coach Paul" Minore kept Woody and "Yankee Joe" Lee at bay for the show dough. Hidden Identity is owned and trained by Tom Milici , Sent off as the odds-on favorite he paid $2.80 for win. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Quietly "Hurricane Hannah" Miller keeps on winning. Her latest harness racing victory came at the expense of five others in an eastern region Billings Trot at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday evening (May 25). The talented miss, a two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year, scored her seventh seasonal triumph when she guided Rev It Now to a gate to wire triumph over "Yankee Joe" Lee's Hidden Identity in a 2:00-3/5 clocking. "He (Rev It Now) likes the front end so I wanted to get him there and from the two-hole this week it was a lot easier than last week when we started from the nine hole," Hannah said via telephone after the race was completed. Pushed to a :28.4 first quarter over the sloppy racetrack by Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff with The Franchise, Rev It Now soon put him away and the veteran 11-year-old Revenue S gelding led the field by the halfway point in :59.3. He was still comfortable on the lead as he trotted by the three quarters in 1:30.2. At that point Joe Lee and Hidden Identity ranged alongside Rev It Now but as they straightened for home Hannah's trotter opened up daylight and finished a two-length winner over Lee's charge. Third place went to Wygant Prince, handled by "Coach Paul" Minore. "Although (Uncle) Andy (Miller) won with him earlier this year this my first win with Rev It Now since 2015 because he was out all last year," Hannah added. The victory marked Rev It Now's 35th of his career and pushed his lifetime earnings to nearly $284,000. And for "Hurricane Hannah", the driving victory was her 80th in just 280 lifetime starts. Rev It Now is owned by Ms Miller and trained by Nick Surick. Billings action continues on June 1st at Monticello Raceway. 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 Racetrack 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. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Since the early 1980's the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series started the rebirth of amateur harness racing driving and since then it has been the granddaddy of all amateur contests. It was so successful that it spawned amateur clubs at many racetracks, especially on the east coast, many of which today sap the entries in the Billings Series. On Thursday night (May 12) a 10-horse field of trotters went to post in a Billings contest at the Meadowlands which produced an excellent stretch duel with two trotters and their tail-setters giving their all in an effort to be a winner. When the two main competitors, David "Poppa" Glasser with Winwood Scout and "Hurricane Hannah" Miller and Pine Tab, locked horns at the top of the lane they battled side-by-side all the way to the finish line. The finish was so tight that it took a few minutes before the judges hung the official sign but when they did the former duo was short nose winner over the latter. Glasser and Winwood Scout started from the nine hole and they hustled to the lead and had command in a :27.3 first quarter. Meanwhile, Hannah and Pine Tab got away sixth and they were seven lengths behind the leader at the first stanza. Secure on the lead Glasser got his trotter a breather and they were an open lengths ahead of Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff and Keystone Thomas as the half mile timer flashed :57.3. Nearing that point Hannah moved Pine Tab off the pylons still in sixth position and five lengths behind Winwood Scout. As they headed up the backside Glasser's trotter began to open some daylight on the field and they had a two-length lead in the 1:26.4 clocked three furlongs. Forced to go three-wide around horses Hannah had Pine Tab in high gear at the third stanza and they ranged alongside the leader at the top of the stretch. And from there the battle for victory ensued until Winwood Scout was posted the winner. "I won by one quarter of a nose!" laughed Glasser, who is the president of a litigation support company. "It was a tough first quarter, then I tried to go a fair pace-- not too fast and not too slow --and I just had enough to hold on. Barely. "It was a great race and it felt great to win. This was my fourth Meadowlands win, with the other the last May. Mother's Day has been good to me. I won my first-ever last Mother's Day and this one just before Mother's Day." Recently claimed by Glasser Racing and trained by Mike Watson, the 7-year-old Keystone Nordic gelding paid $9.80 for win. It was the fourth victory in eight seasonal starts for Winwood Scout. And for Glasser, it was his second driving victory this season and 34th of his amateur career. John Manzi

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