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Meadowlands, Pa-The ever traveling CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series was on the move again on Saturday afternoon (July 14) for a $10,000 mid-west region harness racing trot at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania and when the results were deemed official Tom "Mayhem" Svrcek notched his first seasonal driving victory when he rallied Upfront Charlieboy to a stunning come-from-behind victory over eight others in a 2:00.2 clocking. Svrcek, an insurance man by profession, made his first start in this years Billings Series a winning one after finishing off the board in most of his 20 previous non-amateur events. "Fifteen years ago I raced in the Billings but my work schedule made it hard over the ensuing years to drive regularly," noted Svrcek. "Its been a while since I won a race and this victory today was extra-special considering the fact that my horse was eighth at the half and finished like gangbusters." When the wings of the mobile gate folded the betting favorite, Rufus DeVie, driven by Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, went off-stride before the start as Mutinyonthebounty and Ned "the Insurance Agent" Hodkinson scooted to the front as the first quarter timer flashed :29.2 They were followed closely by BL Class Act and driver, Mike "the Mortgage Man" Mitchell and at this point Upfront Charlieboy was eight lengths off the lead in seventh place. Meanwhile, Hodkinson and his charge showed the way past the half in 1:00.2 followed closely by Mitchell's trotter. As they headed for the three quarters Mutinyonthebounty seemed well in hand as he led the field (the eventual winner still some seven lengths behind) all the way to the top of the stretch. But at that point the leader's lights seemed to dim as he faded and Svrcek had Upfront Charlieboy in high gear. When the field headed for home Upfront Charlieboy still had a lot ground to make up but the 10-year-old Cantab Hall gelding fired on all fours and surged to the lead before the wire and kept Better Call Saul ("Michelle the Belle" Ruvola) at bay for a head triumph in 2:00.2. BL Class Act finished third. Mutinyonthebounty faded to fifth. "My horse has no gate speed that's why we got away so badly," Svrcek explained. "But he loves to stalk and when I finally got a chance to show him daylight the old fella knew just what to do." Trained by Bill Fahy and owned by his wife Moira, Upfront Charlieboy paid $10.60. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Jackson, MI--The results of the CKG Billings Series trot at Jackson Raceway in Michigan probably won't go down in the annuals of harness racing history for it was a non-wagering affair and just another stop along the road in the sports inaugural and enduring national amateur driving program. But, then again on second thought, it may be long remembered for it was the final race contested over the double-oval at Jackson Raceway which will soon be leveled. However, it certainly will be remembered by that races' winning driver, Patricia "the Write Stuff" Miller. She has been a longtime member of the Midwest region of the Billings Series and her victory with her own veteran trotter, Keep The Cash left her completely ecstatic. "It was a most exciting day and win for me. Huge crowd; a full grandstand bidding Jackson farewell. Much joy and some sadness as well. Another track is history," she offered via email. "I had the one-hole so got away well. Kept the lead until passed by Steve (Oldford with Mulligan Bi). We were well out in front of the others. I stayed on Steve's helmet until just before the last turn. Remembering what John Campbell says about when to pull on a 1/2 mile track (how is that for a memory?) I pulled out and Cash just cruised around Steve and on to victory. The packed grandstand was roaring and it was a huge thrill for me. Cash raced perfectly, so well trained by veteran Michigan trainer and driver, Keith Crawford. Oldford was second best and the show money from the $2000 purse went to My Country Boy, driven by "Jerry The Jet" Mihelich. "Jackson is and was so special for me,"Michigan native, Pat added. "After driving endless Q's (qualifying races) at different tracks, I drove in the rain, fog, and mud of a Jackson spring day and was soaked muddy and dripping. I stomped into the race office and told them it was time, I wanted my license THEN, and they gave it to me. So that is a special spot in my heart for sure." Pat, a professional writer by trade, and her husband "Buckboard Bob" Miller have been longtime owners and drivers and have competed in many amateur series of which the Billings is the granddaddy of them all. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driving Series

Nichols,NY--The beauty of the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series is that its a traveling harness racing program where the competitors get a chance to exhibit their abilities on different size racetracks throughout the nine month season. Today ( July 7) the race was over Tioga Downs' 5/8ths mile oval in New York's southern tier and after a hard fought battle "Coach Paul" Minore and his veteran trotter, Wygant Prince, withheld a late charge by Aventure and driver "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli and to score a 1:57.3 victory. Overlooked by the attending public Wygant Prince paid $25.40 for win. When the six-horse field was approaching the starting line the rail horse and even-money favorite, Fleet Honeybee ("Yankee Joe" Lee), went off-stride and was never in contention thereafter. When the mobile gate sprung Wygant Prince, racing from the two-hole, allowed (#6) Uriel and "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe, to gain command in the 28-second first quarter. When all the trotters lined up in single file Wygant Prince got to enjoy a two hole journey until the field headed to the third stanza. As the leaders rounded the final turn Minore kept his charge along the pylons and rallied past Uriel and braced for the hard charging Aventure. In the deep stretch Wygant Prince and Aventure matched stride for stride but at the finish Minore's trotter got the last call for a head victory. Uriel finished two lengths behind the top two for third money. The winner, an 11-year-old altered son of SJ's Photo, notched his sixth seasonal triumph and 37th of his illustrious career while raising his career earnings to over $411,000. Wygant Price is owned by his driver and trained by Taylor Gower. by John Manzi for the Billings Series  

One of the more enticing features of the CKG Billings Series- the granddaddy of all amateur organizations-is that its members are, and have been, offered competitions on all size racetracks. Tonight eight gentlemen drivers lined-up behind the mobile starting gate on the Meadowlands mile-oval with each having visions of reaching the winners circle. But when the race was declared official it was "Joltin Joe" Pennacchio and his trusty steed Super Manning who led his rivals to the finish line while stopping the timer at a very creditable 1:55.2. Sent off as the betting favorite from post six it didn't make much difference if Super Manning ever saw the pylons, the veteran 10-year old Diamond Goal gelding raced with cover on the limb until Pennacchio moved him as they approached the three quarters. Second on the outside when the field passed that marker once they squared for home they began to put daylight between themselves and the rest of the field. At the wire Super Manning was two lengths better than runner-up Toss Cartwright, driven by Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinhans who shadowed the winner from the three quarters but came up short. "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli took home the show dough with Aventure. The winner is owned by Pennaccio's, J P Racing LLC, and trained by Allen Sisco. For Pennacchio, a retired executive, it was the 172nd career victory for the talented amateur reinsman. To say that "Joltin' Joe" currently has a hot hand would be an understatement. With the Billings season not yet half completed Pennacchio already has a start on his best year ever. He has victories in three of his last four starts and thus far this year he has 10 wins, 7 seconds and 2 thirds and a UDRS of .401 from 39 seasonal trips behind the mobile gate. by John Manzi, for the Billings Harness Driving Series    

In late February the initial Pro-Am Competition was staged at Pompano Park and today (Tuesday, June 19) at Scioto Downs, the second edition of the challenge where the amateur drivers competed in races with and against some of the industry's top reinsmen was showcased. The competitions are the brainchild of Stacy Cahill, the director of racing at both Pompano and Scioto Downs. And from the participants at each venue monies were raised for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation and for New Vocations. Participating professionals included Tim and Trace Tetrick, Dan Noble and Aaron Merriman while the remainder of drivers in each event were all amateurs. And to the surprise of no one, every one of the four contest races was won by a professional. The first contest race was won by Dan Noble with amateur driver, Steve Oldford second and Tim Tetrick third. Noble came back to win the second Pro-Am event as amateur driver Joey Putnam finished second. And Tim Tetrick was again third. Then in the third Pro-Am event Trace Tetrick turned back Aaron Merriman for the victory. Amateur driver Michelle Ruvola took home the show dough. And in the final Pro-Am event Trace Tetrick again emerged victorious with Aaron Merriman second and Michelle Ruvola third. But the amateur drivers had their day in the sun with a race strictly for Billings members late on the card. NED HODKINSON WINS THE BILLINGS TROT  Ned "the Insurance Man" Hodkinson and his trusty steed, Mutinyonthebounty, remain a perfect two-for-two this year after they out-footed nine others to score an impressive victory in a 1:58.1 clocking. After racing on the front-end relatively unchallenged the wire came just in time as a host of trotters were closing in on Mutinyonthebounty. But the veteran Mutineer gelding refused to lose and kept Winbak Charles M and driver "Lawbook Larry" Farley at bay for a head victory.. Better Call Saul was a neck farther back in third for "Michelle The Belle" Ruvola. Sent off the favorite in the race Mutinyonthebounty paid $5.90 for win. Hodkinson, who owns and trains the winner, notched his 61st lifetime driving victory. by John Manzi, for the Billing Series     

MONTICELLO, NY- The CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series is truly an international competition aided by the fact that on Monday, June 18 some of the Canadian members convened in Ontario, Canada at Grand River Raceway to compete in a trotting contest on the betting card and despite finishing with broken equipment Majestic Mystic was hustled home a five-length winner for "Fabulous Freddie" Bourgault. For the Quebec native it was his first winning drive in Ontario. Sent off as second choice in the eight-horse field Bourgault was content to find a spot in fourth position along the pylons when the wings of the gate folded. But when the pace of the race slowed as the field headed to the halfway point Bougault was out and going and when they passed the third stanza Majestic Mystic had command, albeit by just a head, over the pacesetter Happy Holidays, driven by "Gentle Ben" Hollingsworth). When the field straightened for paydirt Majestic Mystic began to ease away from his competition and finish some five lengths in front of Overcomebyvictory,("Sir Issac" Waxman) in a time of 2:00.4. Third under the wire was Extrapolate in rein to Shane "The Freelton Flash" Arsenault. The winner, a 9-year-old Majestic Son gelding, is owned by Mary Ketros and trained by George Ketros. Sent off at odds of over 3-1 Majestic Mystic paid $9.10 for win. by John Manzi, for the Billings Amateur Driving Series  

SARATOGA, NY - He doesn't drive often but "Jungle Jim" Hathaway visited the winner circle in his first seasonal drive when the Ballston Spa resident bided his time with EJ's Last Dance with his sites set on catching Tough Get Going before the race was completed. And they did. At the wire they were a two lengths to the good in a 1:58.4 clocking at Saratoga Harness on Friday, (June 15) in the $6000 CKG Billings trot. For Hathaway it was his first driving victory since 2015. Eight trotters lined-up behind the mobile gate and when the wings folded four horses went for the lead but it was Tough Get Going ("Smokin' Joe" Faraldo) who was the strong horse and had command in the stiff :28 first quarter. "Smokin' Joe kept the pedal to the metal and they were three lengths in front at the half as the timer flashed :57.2.At this point the eventual winner, who started from the pole position, was third along the pylons and looking to move up. As Tough Get Going passed the third stanza the lead had opened to five lengths. But as he rounded the final turn his strides shortened and "Jungle Jim" hurried EJ's Last Dance alongside the leader and when they headed down the short stretch Jim Hathaway had victory in site as his trotter gained command and went on to a two length triumph. 18-1 longshot,Tough Get Going, held on for second while Justice Jet, second choice in the wagering, rallied from far back to finish a close third for "Bullet Bob" Davis. Aventure ("Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli) went off as the favorite but he flattened-out and finished fourth. EJ's Last Dance, a 6-year-old Conway Hall mare,is owned by Scheigert Racing Stable and trained by Amanda Kelley. Sent away at odds of over 8-1 the trotter paid $18.40. Next Billings action will be at Scioto Downs on Tuesday, June 19. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Monticello, NY - Joe Pennacchio is a happy man. And why shouldn't he be? After all the talented amateur notched a driving double on the betting card at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (6/14) afternoon. He won the North American Amateur Drivers Association Trot with Cheeky Little Minx immediately after winning the previous race with Super Manning. Both trotters are owned by Pennacchio's JP Racing LLC and trained by Allen Sisco. It's a rarity for an amateur driver to win two races on the same card so that precipitated a question to Joe; is this this first time you won a pair on a betting card? He thought for a moment and said "no", and then continued: "At Pompano (Park) a few seasons ago I won twice on the wagering program." The retired executive from Delray Beach, Fla. looked like a professional in executing both victories. His victory with recently purchased Cheeky Little Minx was never in doubt after he sent the 6-year-old daughter of Lucky Chucky to the lead from the two- hole. They had two lengths on the field as the timer flashed :30.1 and from there Cheekly Little Minx trotted nearly even fractions of :30.1, :30 and :30.1 en route to 5-1/4 length triumph in 2:00.3 over Winwood Scout (David Glasser), with Pixel Queen and driver Joe Lee another length back in third place. "I was just a passenger" a modest Pennacchio said after his victory. He then added " we bought her at the Ohio sale in early May and now she has three wins in three starts for us since we purchased her. And if I might add, she's a pleasure to drive." Sent off the prohibitive favorite Cheeky Little Minx paid $2.70 for win. That romping victory came after Pennacchio's triumph in the previous race with Super Manning. Again sent off as the betting favorite, racing luck played a big part in their victory in this contest. Crystal Sphere, with Mike Merton driving, cut all the fractions and they had a four-length lead when they turned for home but in mid-stretch the trotter went off stride which opened the door for Pennacchio and Super Manning whose best results appeared to be a second place finish. "As Yogi Berra prolifically said "it ain't over til it's over" and when the judge posted the official sign our number (5) was on top," Pennacchio said smiling. Super Manning, a 10-year-old Diamond Goal gelding, returned $2.80 for win. "Joltin' Joe" now has 9 seasonal driving victories and 171 thus far in his illustrious career. by John Manzi, for NAADA    

Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, moved on to Yonkers Raceway where two solid six-horse trots were presented in the series eastern region prior to the betting card getting underway. When the judges posted the official signs "Yankee Joe" Lee and "Annie Get Your Gun" Stoebe were victorious in their respective $6000 splits. Lee was a convincing winner behind Soul Train in 1:58.3 while Miss Annie was home free with Uriel in a 1:59 clocking. Both horses used the front-end route to victory. Named the sports Amateur Driver of the Year last season Lee, the New York Yankees' locker room manager, has been heating up recently now with three wins and a second in his last five starts. Tonight he gunned Soul Train to the lead from post six and they made every pole winning one en route to turning back Evore Hanover and driver David "Poppa" Glasser by some 3-1/4 lengths. When the wings of the mobile gate folded "Yankee Joe" had his trotter in high gear from post six and they had six lengths on the field as they passed the first stanza. From there they were comfortably in front until they crossed the finish line. Third place went to Time Will Tell All in rein to"Mighty Matt" Zuccarello. Soul Train, is owned by Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable, Santo Farina and Joseph Lee, and is trained by Jose Godinez. It was the second victory this season for the 7-year-old Trainforthefuture gelding. In her division Ms Stoebe started from the pole position, took no prisoners and used the front-end route as she and her veteran trotter passed the first stanza is a soft :29.4. Although they rebuffed a few challengers along the way Miss Annie and Uriel were easily in command all the way to the wire. Despite a garden trip in the two-hole No Recess and driver Bob "the Headhunter" Hechkoff couldn't make up any ground in the deep stretch and had to settle for second money. "Coach Paul" Minore and his old warhorse Wygant Prince made a run at the leaders at the halfway point but soon settled back along the pylons and sauntered home in third place some three lengths behind the winner. Uriel, a 7-year-old Explosive Matter gelding gave Ms Stoebe her second Billings victory of the fledgling season. Next Billings action will be at Saratoga Raceway on Friday, June 15. by John Manzi for, the Billings Series    

WASHINGTON, PA, June 2, 2018 -- In a rare battle of millionaires, Dapper Dude got the jump on Dancin Yankee and held him at bay late to capture Saturday's $20,000 Preferred Handicap Pace at The Meadows. Dapper Dude was drafting in the pocket behind his stablemate, Anythingforlove A, when Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. sent him after the lead past the three-quarters. The 9-year-old son of The Panderosa-Dress To Suggest blew by in a heartbeat, with Dancin Yankee in tow. Dapper Dude downed Dancin Yankee by a head in 1:50 while 56-1 long shot Rock The Nite rallied for show. Bill Bercury trains Dapper Dude, who now boasts a career bankroll of $1,242,500, for Renee Bercury. With his place check, Dancin Yankee soared over $1.7 million in lifetime earnings. The Bercurys were at it again in Saturday's co-feature, the $18,000 Filly & Mare Preferred Handicap Trot. There, Barn Girl -- trained by Bill, owned by Renee -- won a heated three-way scrum for the early lead and prevailed in 1:53, a tick off her career best. The 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Turquoise Sweetie now has won $673,668, and she improved her career winning percentage to a nifty 50 -- 49 victories in 98 starts. Dave Palone piloted three winners, including a pair for trainer Mike Palone, on the 12-race card GEORGE BONOMO WINS BILLINGS LEG  WASHINGTON, PA, June 2, 2018 -- 'Chicago' George Bonomo squeezed off the cones with Time Outa Jail down the backside, gobbled up the tiring leader and captured Saturday's $10,000 leg of the C.K.G. Billings amateur trot at The Meadows in a 10-1/4-length romp. Once Bonomo and Time Outa Jail found racing room, they surged past Mike "The Mortgage Man" Mitchell and Ki Ki Canolli and scored in 1:58. Bob "The Lumberman" Troyer was second with JLS Too Hot Taj while Michelle "The Belle" Ruvola and Better Call Saul rallied from a backside break to earn show. When Ruvola finished third, she assured that family bragging rights would remain with Bonomo, her father -- at least until the next Billings event. Christ Hershberger trains Time Outa Jail, a 7-year-old Jailhouse Jesse-Two Timer gelding who extended his career bankroll to $252,533, for 'Chicago' George and Rose Bonomo. by Evan Pattak, for The Meadows

MONTICELLO NY--Thursday, My 31 started out gloomy in the lower Catskills region of New York State but as luck would have it any precipitation that fell from the heavens held off during the harness racing program. Featured today at the Mighty M was a Billings trot that attracted seven horses, all veterans, and when the winner's number was posted on the totebord it belonged to Better To Be Lucky who was very capably driven by his owner-trainer, "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli. Starting from the three-hole, Ciuffetelli gunned his charge to the front and surprisingly Better To Be Lucky had command before the first turn. "He's been racing really well for me this season having already won three of seven starts, all of which came from behind but today, after looking over the official program it appeared that there were no leavers in the field so I decided to send "Better" to the front," Ciuffetelli said. After a 29 second first quarter Ciufettelli kept the pedal to the metal and he and his charge trotted by the halfway point in :58.1. They were being chased by "Coach Paul" Minore and Wygant Prince and Tim Lizzi with "Yankee Joe" Lee in the pilot's seat. "I had still 'lotsa horse' as we trotted by the three quarters and we were still fairly comfortable as we straightened for home but when we neared the wire I felt "Better" come back to me a bit. But at that point we were almost home" Ciufettelli explained. When they hit the finish wire, in a time of 1:59:4, Better To Be Lucky had a neck advantage over Tim Lizzie and coming from far back to be third was Starsaboveallerage, driven by "Steve "You're Never Too Oldford. Sent off at odds of over 2-1, Better To Be Lucky returned a $6.10 win mutuel. Next up in Billings action is a mid-west region trot at the Meadows on Saturday, June 2. by John Manzi for the Billings Series  

MONTICELLO, NY--- Besides offering races to many racetracks which, especially in this day and age, are welcomed to help fill their harness racing programs, the granddaddy of all amateur organizations the CKG Billings Harness Driving Association, donated to a local charity while the Billing members were competing in Canada. "We donated $1000 to a women's shelter near Mohawk while we were racing in Canada," noted Billings vice president Steve Oldford. "We presented the check in the winner's circle prior to the start of our race at Woodbine Mohawk Park on May 28th. Ever since the Billings Series was instituted in the early 1980's the competing amateurs have donated many tens of thousands of dollars to charities as well as being a major supporter of the Harness Racing Museum. John Manzi  

Monticello, NY--The second a final event for the traveling members of the CKG Billings Harness Drivers Series who ventured to Canada was contested at Woodbine Mohawk on Monday evening, May 28 and when the judges posted the official sign Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, up behind Adversity, romped over eight others in a 1:56.3 clocking. "We started slow but finished strong," Oldfield said via telephone after is driving victory. When the wings of the mobile gate folded "Buffalo Bob" Davis gunned Burnin Money to the front and they led the field by the first stanza in :28 seconds with Oldfield viewing the front-end action as he settled his charge down along the pylons in fifth position some seven lengths of the leader. "Everyone found a hole and we were all following Bob's (Davis), lead and he rolled on to a three length lead as he took us by the half in :57 " Oldford explained. " And as we headed for the three quarters Burnin Money's strides began to shorten many of us were looking to move up." First to do so was Robert "Call Me Bobby" Ciavardini with Overcomebyvictory followed by Oldford with the eventual winner. Adversity cleared and by the time they rounded the final turn he was three lengths in front. Pierre Trudeau followed Oldford's lead with Charmbro Chrome and they were third as the field headed for home. But in the lane Overcomebyvictory faded and Charmbro Chrome finished second while Blameitonthewhisky ("Racin" Jason" Sgrignouli) got up for third money. Overcomebyictory, was just that as he faded to fourth. Adversity is owned by Jemaxpo and trained by J Ryan Sent off as the odds-on favorite Adversity paid $3.40 for win. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

On Sunday,May 27, harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, was on the move again this time north of the border for a nine-horse pacing event at Flamboro Downs. After "Racin' Jason" Sgrignouli sent Eas Ideal to the front from the six-hole his 5-year-old Sportswriter gelding made easy work of it and made every pole a wining one en route to a 3-1/2 length victory in a 1:59 clocking. (The first and longest running amateur driving series in the modern era, the Billings members sometime use pacers in their travels when a field of trotters is not available) A soft :30.1 first quarter probably made Sgrignouli's journey a lot easier for his 7-1 shot and he cruised along with nearly even fractions while saving something for the final quarter which was the fastest split in the race. As it turned out a :29.2 final panel was needed by the Dorval, Que. electrician in order to keep "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello and his charge`Crafty Xample at bay. When the wings of the mobile gate folded the even money favorite L Dees Luca, handled by Billing veep Steve "You're Never Too" Oldford, got away a bad seventh from the three-hole and by the time the field had passed the halfway point L Dees Luca was some 10 lengths behind, ground he never made up and finished fourth, two lengths behind Warrawee Phoenix and driver Robert "call me Bobby" Ciavardini who was the third under the wire. The winner, owned by Brenda Rankin and Brandon Chariot paid $16.00; $7.00 and $8.50 across the board. He is trained by Jim Rankin. The second Canadian Billings race, a 10-horse trot, is slated for tonight,(May 28) at Woodbine Mohawk Park. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series      

FREEHOLD, NJ--Harness racing's greatest traveling roadshow, the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series, is on the move again today (May 26) featuring a trot at Freehold Raceway and for the third time in amateur contests over the past week once again a lady is the champ. Emulating previous amateur winners, Jennifer Lappe and Monica Banca, this time Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe turned the tables on the boys when she went down the road unchallenged and coasted home an easy three-length winner with Uriel in a time of 1:58.3. A member of multiple amateur driving clubs this season marks the first time that the talented miss is participating in the sport's oldest and longest running amateur organization. After seven trotters had lined-up behind the mobile starting gate Stoebe gunned her charge to the front from the two-hole and they were four lengths ahead of the field when the quarter pole timer flashed :28.4. Still leading the way by the half , albeit by only two lengths, that margin was dramatically increased to eight lengths as she led Orange Biji and driver "Mighty Matt" Zuccarello into the final turn. Still six lengths to the good at the top lane the announcer told fans holding mutuel tickets with Uriel's number to get on line to collect. Orange Biji made up some ground in the stretch but at the finish it was Uriel and "Annie Get Your Gun" by a solid three lengths. After he recovered from going offstride early in the mile Evore Hanover, with David "Poppa" Glasser at the controls, garnered the show dough. Miss Annie owns the winner, a 7-year-old Explosive Matter gelding, who paid $8.80 to his backers. It was the third seasonal and fourth lifetime driving victory for Ms Stobe who began her career in the sulky just last season. Over the Memorial Day weekend the international Billings Harness Driving Series will have contests in Canada-Sunday at Flamboro Downs and Monday at Woodbine Mohawk Park. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Series

MONTICELLO,NY - After a CKG Billings Series Midwest regional trot at Scioto Downs last night (May 18) the longest running amateur driving series moved on to Freehold NJ for a contest over the famed harness racing double-oval at Freehold Raceway and when the results were finalized, "Tough Tony" Ciuffettelli scored an impressive victory with Better To Be Lucky in a time of 2:00.4 over a soggy racetrack. Last October Ciuffetelli purchased Better Be Lucky and since then the 6-year-old Lucky Chucky gelding has proven to be a valuable commodity after the trotter notched his fourth seasonal triumph. "I bought him as a back-up Billings horse," Ciuffetelli explained. "He's a nice horse but he occasionally gets temperamental." After leaving softly from the two-hole Ciuffetelli headed for the pylons and watched the speed duel ensue between Annie "Get Your Gun" Stoebe, with betting favorite Uriel, and "Yankee Joe" Lee's, Great Emancipator, who was on the limb fighting for command. "I was feeling good watching Anne and Joe go at it. They were going pretty swift over the muddy racetrack and I was hoping that they'd get tired ... and that's just what happened," Ciuffetteli said. With snappy early fractions of :28.2 and :58 Ciuffetteli just bided his time. He was second at the third stanza in 1:29.2 and when Better To Be Lucky cleared on the final turn he had command. "I felt pretty confident as he headed for the wire since the two favorites battled it out early, "Tough Tony" added. "I saw Tyler (Miller) coming at us but he went off-stride before the finish." "Young Tyler" Miller finished second with Masster Blue while Anne Stoebe took home the show dough with Uriel. It seems that Bettor To Be Lucky lived up to his name as he crossed the finish line 1-1/2 lengths in front of Miller's, Masster Blue. Ciuffetelli, a former corrections officer, also owns and trains the winner who returned $20.20; $7,00 and $3.60. For "Tough Tony" it marked his 54th career driving victory. by John Manzi, for the CKG Billings Harness Driving Series    

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