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Yonkers, NY-- In what turned out to be an adjustment in the first leg of the third NAADA Trotting Series at Yonkers Raceway tonight, the first harness racing horse under the wire, Ladys Big Stormont driven by Alan Schwartz, was disqualified and placed second which opened the door for Soul Train and driver Joe Lee to walked away with the lions share of the $8000 purse. "Because of tight racing on the final turn I was forced by Soul Train to go over the pylons on the final turn and when I did the judges deemed it was a Euro-rail violation and my horse should not have gotten any advantage, " Schwartz related after the race. " And I didn't, because the judges disqualified my horse and placed Joe's ( Soul Train) first, even though I beat him by a head at the wire." When the wings of the mobile starting gate folded Schwartz gunned his veteran trotter to the lead and they had command in a :28.4 first quarter with Uriel and Tony Ciuffetelli, Jr. pressing hard on the outside. But after the .59.3 half Uriel began to fade and when he did Joe Lee moved Soul Train off the pylons and rallied up alongside Ladys Big Stomont. However, around the final turn with the leaders tightly side by side the infraction occurred which caused Schwartz's trotter to receive a disqualification which allowed Lee's horse to be placed first. Wygant Prince and driver Paul Minore finished third, just one length behind the top two. Next Thursday the NAADA Trotting Series moves on to Monticello Raceway. by John Manzi, for NAADA  

Trenton, NJ — When the New York Yankees play a day-night doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium Aug. 3, they may want to double check their equipment just to make sure everything is in order. Because, if he has his way, New York’s assistant equipment manager will be on the other side of the George Washington Bridge, harness racing. Joe Lee has worked with the Yankees for a quarter century and it’s going to kill him to miss two games with the hated Beantowners. But he hopes to be watching his horse, Mr Vicktor, compete in harness racing’s crown jewel that day at The Meadowlands. “I will try and be at this Hambletonian,” Lee said. “This will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I think I’m afforded to take a day off. I mean after 25 years I can take a day off. Although it is against the Red Sox, and it is two games. It’s the worst combo. This would be a great gig if they didn’t have to play all these games.” With the Yanks in Boston this weekend, at least Lee can watch Mr Vicktor make his Meadowlands debut Saturday (July 27) in the $81,200 W.N. Reynolds Memorial. The race is the final stakes prep for the $1 million Hambletonian, harness racing’s premier event for 3-year-old trotters, the first weekend in August. Mr Vicktor has won seven of 10 lifetime starts, with two seconds and one third, while earning $195,152. All of his races have been in New York, primarily on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. This year, the colt has won six of eight starts and finished second twice, both times behind undefeated Gimpanzee, who was the 2018 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter. “We skipped the sire stakes this weekend in New York to get him off the smaller tracks,” Lee said. “He’s been on the bigger track (seven-eighths Vernon Downs) but hasn’t been on the mile. Going into the Hambletonian, we wanted to get him a trip over The Meadowlands track. We had staked him earlier this winter for the Reynolds, actually as a prep race if he ever turned out to be the horse he turned out to be. That worked out.” Did it ever. Mr Vicktor, by RC Royalty out of Hawaiian Vicky, was purchased for $21,000 at the 2017 Morrisville Sale by Lee, Diamond Pride LLC, which is former Yankees manager Joe Torre, and Sholty Racing. Buzzy Sholty, the horse’s original trainer, made the call. “Buzzy’s got a good eye for picking out horses that look like they have good conformation,” Lee said. “Buzzy also is pretty good on the breeding and the cross breed and what he thinks could be a good cross breed and what he thinks is the best shot at getting to the track for not a lot of money. Buzzy is never one to over-pay and say, ‘Hey we’re getting this horse no matter what.’ “Buzzy’s picked out good horses in the past for me too. Not one that was going to be in the Hambletonian, but Buzzy’s got a good eye on picking a well-built horse. And seeing the horse is an RC Royalty, you’re going to get him a little cheaper. But he’s built well and he’s got a tough heart.” Mr Vicktor won his first lifetime start at Monticello Raceway in the New York Excelsior Series A and came back to finish third at Tioga Downs in the same series. But during the race he made a breathing noise and the decision was made to shut him down for the season. “He was getting entrapped,” Lee said. “So, we did the surgery and let him have the time he needed to heal. At the same time, we thought we had a really nice horse. Buzzy was really patient with him and let him come back on his own. “This year he qualified fine. He started out in a non-winners of two (at Yonkers) and won handily with Buzzy driving. We said, ‘All right, he looks pretty good here, he looks like he’s come back, he’s not having any breathing issue.’ Going back to his first race, he went 2:00 at Monticello and we said, ‘Wow, you have a horse that can go in 2:00 at Monticello in his first lifetime start and not be fully getting his air, we must have a nice horse.’ It was fully worth it to do the surgery and give him the time that he needed.” Mr Vicktor has won seven of 10 lifetime starts, with two seconds and one third, while earning $195,152 In May, Bob Santagata and Jennifer Lappe came looking for a quality horse, and Lee and Torre brought them in on Mr Vicktor, but they wanted to hold on to a stake. “Bob Santagata was interested in having a nice 3-year-old that was coming into his own,” Lee said. “Our horse was really lightly raced, it looked like he had some ability. So, he was willing to take a shot. He was interested in purchasing the horse, but we wanted to also stay in because we thought the horse had a lot of ability as well. So, Jennifer and Bob Santagata joined up with us and on we went.” Once the deal was complete, Lappe took over the training duties while Sholty continued to paddock the colt and warm him up. Tyler Buter remained as the driver, which made sense since Mr Vicktor was undefeated this year at the time the new partners came on board. “He had known the horse, he had trained him at the farm with Buzzy,” Lee said. “Tyler was really familiar with him. To be honest, over the years, the money we made from the last horse Tyler was driving for us helped us get Mr Vicktor. “Tyler has always done right by us. He always has the horses in a good spot and never really over-races them. He races that horse as if it’s his own. Tyler’s a real good horseman as well. He knows what he’s doing out there and we’re comfortable with him.” That makes for a good combination since Mr Vicktor is capable of racing several different ways. In his second start this year, he was challenged on the backstretch and collared, but dug in and won by 4-3/4 lengths. “He’s got it in him, he knows when he’s got to race,” Lee said. “He’s a pretty versatile horse. If you need to leave the gate, he’ll push right out of there. There’s been a couple races where they’ve been flying in the first turn and he’s gotten away either fourth, fifth and then come first over right away. He’s got a big brush in him, he swells up when he gets on the lead. He’s raced both on the lead and from behind. “Tyler has done a really, really good job keeping him relaxed in the post parade and keeping his feet underneath him going to the gate. He can tend to be a little hot when he’s warming up. That was last year. Jogging this year, he’d tend to get a little hot. But so far he’s been OK.” Mr Vicktor is one of many horses Lee has owned with Torre, who won four World Series as Yankees manager and who has had some success as a Thoroughbred owner. “Typically for the last few years, anything I’ve owned Joe has taken a piece of,” Lee said. “He’s excited about this also; I’m hoping he can make it to the Meadowlands for the Hambletonian. For the most part he’ll watch online, especially when Mr Vicktor’s been racing. I’ve called him when he’s racing and he’s always on the road.” Lee recalled calling him once to tell Torre the horse was racing in Vernon Downs, and woke him up in the middle of the night because he was in Israel. “He still stops by the stadium quite a bit and I see him and he says, ‘Hey how are you doing partner,’” Lee said. “He loves being a part of it.” One of Torre’s great trademarks as a manager was his calm, cool demeanor. He always seemed unflappable, whether in the dugout or under the hot lights of a World Series press conference. But when it comes to racing, Torre shows a rare emotional side. “Overall his demeanor is he’s a very laid back person,” Lee said. “But he gets excited during a race when I’ve watched races and been at races with him. He’s like anybody else. When you have a stake in a race or you have a wager, yeah you get excited. The thrill of winning, no matter whether it’s a 10 claimer or a stakes horse, that never goes away, never gets old.” It’s a thrill Lee hopes to keep experiencing with Mr Vicktor, especially if he actually decides to miss the big Red Sox doubleheader. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Monticello, NY--In what started out as a furious contest for position ended in a romp for Soul Train and driver Joe Lee as the harness racing duo scored their second consecutive triumph in the NAADA Trotting Series this week at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, May 9. Lee, the New York Yankee's assistant locker room manager, bided his time and watched the early speed duel between Joe Faraldo, with Tough Get Going, and Alan Schwartz, up behind Ladys Big Stormont, and then rallied and picked up all the pieces to turn the contest into a laugher, winning by eight lengths in a time of 1:59.2. After Schwartz had gained command when the starter said go, Faraldo came alongside with a rush and Schwartz grabbed leather and let him go. But as they approached the first stanza Schwartz wanted to retake which he did but not after he was forced to trot at :29.3 second quarter before he had command. Meanwhile, Lee had settled along the pylons in the early going and after the battle on the front-end he moved his trotter to the outside as the field neared the halfway point. "I floated out of there and watched the leaders battle royally and when the dust settled I sent my trotter toward the front-end and "ole Soul" knew just what to do as he trotted to the lead and opened up daylight up the backside," Lee said. At that point Soul Train had three lengths on his competition at the three quarters and from there only the margin of victory was in doubt as Soul Train coasted home an easy winner. Connie Keeper (Tony Verruso) nosed-out Ladys Big Stormont for second money. The 8-year-old Trainforthefuture gelding is co-owned by Lee and Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable and Santo Farino. He paid $3.20 for win.   by John Manzi for NAADA

Yonkers, NY--The eighth leg of the NAADA Spring Trotting Series was contested over the half-mile oval at Yonkers Raceway and when the results were finalized last years Amateur Driver of the Year, Joe Lee, emerged victorious over six others when he guided Soul Train to a wire to wire victory in a time of 1:58.2. In that non-betting affair Lee sent his charge to the lead and took command after Paul Minore grabbed leather on Wygant Prince as the first stanza timer flashed :28.4. Once on the lead Lee, who is the clubhouse manager for the New York Yankees, kept the pedal to the metal and led his competition by the half in :59.3 with Wygant Prince in hot pursuit. As the field headed up the backside Joe Faraldo moved Tough Get Going off the pylons and challenged Soul Train for the lead. But Lee's trotter was up the the challenge and kept Soul Train at bay as he passed the three quarters in 1:28.3. At that point young Brett Beckwith, who was sixth along the pylons, came calling with Dark Pool and although they were charging in the lane they ran out of race track and had to settle for second money. Tough Get Going hung on for third. Soul Train won for the third time this season and raised his seasonal bankroll to over $20,000 and upped his career earnings to $418,000. The 8-yer old Trainforthefuture gelding is co-owned by Lee along with Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable and Santo Farina. With his triumph, Lee vaulted to the lead in series points and with just two legs remaining he has locked up a chance to draw for an all-expense paid trip to Italy to race against his Italian counterparts in northern Italy later this year. The series ninth leg will be contested at Monticello Raceway on Thursday, May 9.   by John Manzi for NAADA

Monticello, NY-- On a pleasant afternoon with the sun peeking through the clouds and the temperature hovering in the mid-50's the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) kicked off its 37th season with a trot at Monticello Raceway and when the judges hung the official sign Joe Lee was victorious after he guided Soul Train to an easy triumph in a 2:00 clocking. After getting away with a slow start from the four-hole Lee was content to follow the leaders in the early going before he moved his charge off the pylons and then rallied to the lead which was theirs as the field trotted by the half mile marker in :59. "I felt I had the best horse so I didn't want to follow the leaders and after we passed the quarter pole I moved "Soul" off the pylons and headed for the lead," Lee explained. Sent off the odds-on favorite, Soul Train opened up daylight on the field and led Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) by the half way point in:59 and were still in command as they passed the third stanza in 1:29. After sitting in the cat-birds seat Brandos Muscle Man, with Peter Kleinhans at the controls, made their run at the leader as the field straightened for home . Although they trotted by Wygant Prince they came up short and had to settle for second money, 1-1/2 lengths behind Soul Train. Joe Lee, who during the major league baseball season is the New York Yankee's assistant clubhouse manager, was thrilled with his trotter's performance today. "He's such a pleasure to drive, Nothing fazes him and he's so handy. If you want to leave just ask him or if you need to find a hole he's responsive," Lee said of Soul Train. "An old veteran (a $410,000 career winner) he knows just what to do." Lee co-owns the 8-year old altered son of Trainforthefuture with Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable and Santo Farina. He paid $2.80 for win. The second leg of this NAADA trotting series will take place at Yonkers Raceway next Thursday, MARCH 21.   by John Manzi for NAADA

Monticello, NY-- To say that amateur driver "Yankee Joe" Lee is on a roll would be gross understatement. After winning the Billings Trot with Soul Train in 2:01.2 today (Thurs. Oct 25) at Monticello Raceway, Lee, the assistant locker room manager for the New York Yankees, now has three consecutive driving victories and has won four of his last five starts. Sent off as the even-money favorite in the six-horse field uncharacteristically Lee took his trotter of the gate and settled in fifth along the pylons as Brandos Muscle Man and Monica "the Norwegian Flash " Banca led the field by the first stanza in :29.4. "I took a chance taking Soul Train back at the start because in the past he never wanted to pass horses when we trailed but today he was definitely different," Lee explained. "He really surprised me when I pulled him going to the half and he easily trotted around Brandos Muscle Man and took command as we headed into the clubhouse turn." By the time Lee reached the three quarters Soul Train had five lengths on the field and at that point the only thing in doubt was the margin of victory. The lead over Brandos Muscle Man was opened to eight lengths as Lee and Soul Train headed for paydirt. Down the stretch Lee was looking for challengers but none came and they coasted home an easy 8-1/2 length winner in 2:01.2. However, in the deep stretch "Lady Jennifer" Lappe rallied Celebrity Blue Chip from fifth at the top of the lane to finish second, a length in front of Brandos Muscle Man. Soul Train is co-owned by Lee, Blindswitch Racing and the Good Friends Stable and trained by Jose Godinez. The 7-year-old altered son of Trainforthefuture scored scored his sixth seasonal victory and returned a $4.00 win mutuel.. For Lee, who was last years National Amateur Driver of the Year, it was his 11th driving victory this season and 48th of his career. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series

Yonkers, NY-- "Now that the baseball season is over I can concentrate a little more on my love of amateur racing," "Yankee Joe" Lee, the locker room manager for the New York Yankees said after he won a NAADA Trot this afternoon at Monticello Raceway. Well maybe it was that concentration Lee was referring to that enabled him to earn another driving victory when he won the Billings trot tonight (Thursday, Oct. 10) with On The Podium in 2:00.3 at Yonkers Raceway. After a wire-to-wire victory in the daylight at The Mighty M Lee found the winners circle under the lights with a covered trip after he gunned his trotter to the front and then sat comfortably in the two hole and followed Wygant Prince and "Coach Paul" Minore's lead. Although the 29 second first quarter took some sting out of Wygant Prince there was more stress for the old veteran when he didn't get a breather because he had to contend with a parked-out Gianni and driver "Mighty Matt Zuccarello. So while the aforementioned duo slugged it out on the engine Lee sat calmly in the pocket and was carried all the way to the top of the lane. Along the way Bobby "Rapid Rail" Krivelin with Permanent Joy, and Bob "the Brewster Flash" Ciavardini with Baltimor AS, worked their way into contention by the top of the stretch but not before Joe Lee scooted around Gianni and everyone was chasing On the Podium to the wire.. However, nobody caught him as Lee had a driving double, albeit at two different racetracks. Baltimor AS was second best while Permanent Joy had to settle for the show dough. Unlike the Monticello trots earlier in the day this was a non-wagering affair. Jose Godinez trains the winner for Lee, Tony Nicometo and the Blindswitch Racing Stable. For Joe Lee, who drove initially in 2010 and for the next five years only when he got time off from his obligations to the Bronx Bombers was he able to enjoy the competition of driving a spirited steed. During those years he notched five victories in 88 starts but since then he's had 41 driving victories and a National Amateur Driver of the Year Award bestowed on him last season. And his 10 wins thus far this year puts him in contention for another award. by John Manzi, for the Billings Series    

Monticello, NY-- The front-end was the place to be in the amateur races today(Thus. Oct 18) at Monticello Raceway as Joe Lee and Alan Schwartz hustled their trotters to wire-to-wire victories in the fifth leg of the NAADA Trotting Series over the Sullivan County double oval. Lee won his betting division with Makin Trouble K in 2:02.3 while Schwartz and Ladys Big Stormont connected for a 2:01.3 triumph in the other on the sunshiny, but unusually blustery, afternoon in the southern Catskill Mountains of New York State. Lee, driving for trainer Bruce Aldrich, Sr., sent Makin Trouble K toward the lead which they gained before the first quarter timer flashed :29. But once on the lead they had to rebuff multiple challenges before they passed the halfway point. "My horse was a handful in the post parade and before the race but once the gate let us go he was fine," Lee said in the paddock after his driving victory. "Once he settled down he was gritty and raced good." At the three quarters they had put away most of the early competition, all but Sheer Action, who was driven by Chistopher Doherty, the grandson of Hall of Famer, Jimmy Doherty, who was making his first lifetime pari-mutuel start. Down the lane Makin Trouble K and Sheer Action were side by side and were joined late on the far outside by Tough Get Going (Joe Faraldo). But as the field neared the wire Faraldo's charge hung and Jennifer Lappe ducked to the passing lane and rallied for second money with Celebrity Blue Chip as Tough Get Going had to settled for the show dough. And although Sheer Action was just a length behind he winner at the wire he finished fourth. Makin Trouble K, who won for the seventh time this season, is owned by Woody Hoblitzell. He paid $18.40. And for Joe Lee, last years National Amateur Driver of the Year, it marked his ninth winning drive thus far this season. The second split went similarly to the first when Schwartz sent Ladys Big Stormont toward the lead and when Bob Krivelin and Current Crisis closed the two-hole Schwartz had little choice but to try to get the lead from Monica Banca and Master of Excuses, who had command. "I really waned to race my horse from a pocket but when there was no room long the pylons I went to the front and I was a little concerned about the 28 and 4 first quarter.," Schwartz explained. Once on top Schwartz and Banca were open lengths in front of their competition and they raced one-two by the half in :59.3 with the order remaining the same as they passed the third stanza in 1:30 flat. Third at that point was Current Crisis (Bob Krivelin) but he began to fade as the leaders rounded the final turn. Despite a two-hole trip the entire way Master Of Excuses couldn't get by Ladys Big Stormont in the lane and they finished 1-1/4-lengths behind Schwartz's trotter who won for the 10th time this season. Jennifer Lappe rallied Multitaskr Hanover to finish third after he went off-stride at the start. Schwartz owns and trains Ladys Big Stormont who paid $3.70. It was Schwartz's 11th seasonal driving victory and the 606th of his amateur career. by John Manzi, for the NAADA Series

Yonkers, NY--Two short fields in the second leg of the North American Amateur Drivers Fall Trotting Series went postward at Yonkers Raceway on Thursday evening, Sept. 27 and when the judges hung the official signs, Dave Offenberg and Joe Lee each reined winners in their respective $6000 divisions. Offenberg copped his split with Fiji in 1:59.4 while Lee and Soul Train were first under the wire in their 1:59.2 clocked mile. With only four horses in the first division Offenberg was content to allow Paul Minore and his old War Horse ,Wygant Prince , zip the the lead and cut the early fractions in the non-betting affair. Not content to follow the leader Offenberg moved to the outside and the two raced side-by-side past the half and by the third stanza and it wasn't until mid-stretch that Fiji gained command but it was still a battle to the wire and at the finish Fiji was a neck winner over Wygant Prince. Third place went to Tough Get Going in rein to Joe Faraldo. Fiji is owned by the Allister Stable and trained by Eric Abbatiello, For Offenberg, it was his third seasonal driving victory and 54th of his amateur career. In the other split,also a non-wagering affair, Lee had a similar journey with Soul Train when he got away second behind Monica Banca and Master of Excuses and stalked her the entire mile. On the final turn Lee moved off the pylons and he rallied the veteran gelding to a 2-1/2 length triumph over Banca's charge. Traverse Seelster garned the show dough for Tony Ciuffetelli. Soul Train, a 7-year old gelding by Trainforthefuture, won for the fifth time this year. He is trained by Jose Godinez. For Joe Lee, last year's Amateur Driver of the Year, it was his eighth winning drive this season. by John Manz,i for NAADA    

Who said that amateur racing isn't fun? Certainly not members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association. After hosting three different European amateur organizations on American soil already this year four NAADA members; Joe Faraldo, Alan Schwartz,Paul Minore and Joe Lee, and their guests; will soon be winging their way to Palma De Mallorca for an international Friendship Competition with the Spanish amateurs. "Though some may be going earlier than others we are all meeting in Palma on the 4th September and racing will be on September 5th, in the morning, and on the 8th in the evening," noted NAADA Event Coordinator, Alicia (Mrs Alan) Schwartz. According the NAADA president Joe Faraldo,"We have had competitions, almost yearly, with the Spanish amateurs. We hosted them last year in the States and we came out on the short end in the competition. But winning or losing is incidental, what is important is the friendship and comraderie shared during the competitions." Tentative itinerary: Arrive in Mallorca on September 4th. Drive to the Finca for accommodations.-Relax and dinner at Italian Restaurant September 5th; -Races in the morning,-Lunch at the racetrack then back to Finca for a barbeque. September 6th ; Visit the Rafa Nadal Museum-Paella by Xisco and after party with Gin tonics--then back to Finca. September 7th; -Visit Ca'n Axartell Vineyards with wine tastings and tapas. Then visit the Pearls in Porto Cristo followed by dinner in Restaurant Sa Fonda September 8th-- Boat Trip with tapas and cocktails during the day and at night races in Manacor followed by dinner with the horse owners September 9th - NAADA members leave Mallorca; except for Joe Lee who will be staying on a bit longer to enjoy the scenery.. by John Manzi, for NAADA    

The first leg of the Friendship Competition between members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association and the visiting Italians is now in the books and the Americans drew first blood when Joe Lee piloted On The Podium to a gate to wire victory at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday afternoon, August 5. "He (On The Podium) was real good today," Lee said by phone after his driving victory. " The last time I drove him he was locked on one line but today he was nearly perfect." After leaving from the five-hole Lee hustled his trotter away from the gate as three others went off-stride before the first turn which left On The Podium six lengths and all alone when he passed by the first stanza in :28.4. Once clearly on top Lee began to tap the brakes and they passed the halfway point in :59.2 amazingly some eight lengths ahead of Masster Blue, driven by Italy's Roberto Michelotto. And when the two leaders headed up the backside Michelotto closed the gap but Masster Blue still trailed On The Podium by three lengths. At the top of the lane the lead was shortened to two lengths and Lee went to urging On The Podium. When they straightened for home a battle ensued but Lee's charge dug in and kept Masster Blue at bay and held on for a head victory in a time of 1:59.2. "I was glad to have an open-lengths lead when we headed for paydirt because I knew my trotter would fade in the deep stretch and that's exactly what happened. He barely had enough in the tank to hold off Michelotto's horse," Lee added. Third place went to the Americans when Jennifer Lappe and Mighty Surf finished two lengths behind the leaders. And the NAADA team gained valuablemore points when Global Revolution, driven by NAADA's Peter Kleinhans, finished fourth. Sent off as third choice in the 8-horse field On The Podium paid $8.60; $4.80 and $5.10 across the board. Lee co-owns the winner with Blindswitch Racing and Anthony Nicometo. Prior to the contest today at Yonkers some of the visiting Italians raced in the Hambletonian Amateur Series on Friday at the Meadowlands and Italy's Roberto Michelotto won his division with Cheeky Little Minx in 1:55.1 The final two races in the Italy v NAADA Friendship Competition will take place on Tuesday (Aug. 7) at Monticello Raceway. by John Manzi, for NAADA

MONTICELLO, NY- When the gate sprung in the North American Amateur Drivers Association's (NAADA) trot at Monticello Raceway on the pleasant afternoon of July 19, little was left for the imagination after "Yankee Joe" Lee gunned Soul Train to the lead and played catch me if you can, and nobody could, as Lee's trotter circled the Mighty M double-oval in a time of 1:58.2 to finish five lengths in front of six others in the sixth leg of the 10-race harness racing trotting series. "I had been racing him (Soul Train) from behind but he didn't seem to like passing horses when moved him so I figured I'd try to race him in front and it seems that's just what the old guy likes," Lee said while hanging up the line in the race paddock after the contest. "This is the third time we won on the engine." When the starter said "go" Lee hustled Soul Train to the lead and opened daylight on the field as a few got tangled on the first turn. But once in front it seemed like the farther the veteran trotter went the more his lead seemed impossible to overcome. Soul Train, sent off as the odds-on favorite in the race, trotted by the first quarter in :28.1 and Lee kept the pedal to the metal as they passed the halfway point in :57.4 with Paul Minore and Wygant Prince tight on his back. But that didn't last long when they headed up the backside as Soul Train widened to a three-length lead by the third stanza and then increased to five lengths as the field headed for home. With Lee swinging on him, Soul Train cruised home an easy winner. Keenan rallied to be second for John Calabrese as Wygant Prince faded and finished third. For Lee, who was last season's National Amateur Driver of the Year, it marked his sixth driving victory this year and his win today places him atop the NAADA Summer Series leaderboard With his triumph Soul Train, a 7-year-old Trainforthefuture gelding, raised his career earnings to over $383,000. He is co-owned by Lee , the Blindwitch Stable, Good Friends Racing, and Santo Farina, and trained by Jose Godinez. He paid $3.30. NAADA members are getting ready to entertain their counterparts from Italy in early August for another Friendship competition, the third time this season that the longstanding international amateur organization will be hosting amateur drivers from Europe. by John Manzi, for NAADA

MONTICELLO, NY--Amateur driver, Joe Lee, proved that when a horse is the best in a race send him to the lead and if he gets beat on the front-end then he wasn't the best when he started. But fear not Joe, your calculations were precise in the sixth race at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon, June 28. When he drove Soul Train in the third leg of the NAADA trotting series he sent his charge to the front and not only did Soul Train win, but he made a laugh-er out of the contest scoring an 11-length triumph over seven others in a race timed in 1:59.1. "When I drove him here (at Monticello) two weeks ago we were comfortable on the lead and had three lengths on the field as we headed for home but in mid-stretch it felt like someone cut the lines and Soul Train 'caved-in'. But after the race we found out the reason he stopped (and finished a well-beaten fourth) was because he bled," Lee said. "We treated him and he raced like a champ this week. In today's contest Lee gunned Soul Train to the lead from the five-hole and the veteran pacer had command in a :28.2 first quarter. The lead then opened to two lengths as they passed the halfway point and when Soul Train headed up the backside he began to put distance between himself and the remainder of the field. The farther he went the bigger the lead became. It was eight lengths at the three quarters; nine lengths at the top of the stretch and 11-lengths at the finish. " I knew we were going to win it but I was surprised to find that there were no horses even close as we headed for home," Lee added. "It felt kinda strange to win by so many(11) lengths and a margin of victory of that magnitude doesn't happen often." The race turned out to be for second place when Woody and driver Bob Krivelin came from the back of the pack to finish second at odds of 33-1. Third place went to Keenan (John Calabrese) who was just a neck off Woody at the wire. Soul Train, a 7-year-old Trainforthefuture gelding, is owned by Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable, Santo Farina and Joe Lee. Sent off as the slight favorite in the race he returned a $4.70 win payoff. For Lee, who was the Amateur Driver of the Year last season, it marked his 5th victory thus far in 2018. 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    

YONKERS,NY - "Yankee Joe" Lee is celebrating today. And why shouldn't he? After all, he just scored the biggest triumph of his amateur harness racing career when he guided Dizzy Rizzy to a 2:34 victory over the 1-1/4 mile distance in the $25,000 CKG Billings Gold Cup Final this morning (Nov. 26) at Yonkers Raceway. Second place went to Wygant Prince and driver "Coach Paul" Minore while "Tough Tony" Ciuffettelli garnered the show dough with Aventure. A true amateur driver Lee has no race horses of his own and no specific trainer who he drives for and although he always gets first call on horses trained by Bruce Aldrich Sr. Lee travels the amateur circuit seeking drives wherever he can. Driving today for trainer Nick Surick, whose trotter won the Billings Gold Cup last year at Harrah's Chester with "Hurricane Hannah " Miller at the controls, victory didn't come easy for Lee who has plenty of supporters at Yankee Stadium where he serves as the assistant locker room attendant for the New York Yankees. "We had tough trip today but we got the job done," Lee related. "I tried leaving but Steve Oldford (with Gonna Fly) was giving Paul Minore and Wygant Prince a tough time. I then tried to slip down on the pylons to no avail but got lucky when Bob Krivelin's horse made a break. "Sitting third I thought I had a good spot. Then Oldford pulled the pocket with over a half mile to go so I got to slip into the two hole. At the top of the stretch I rolled out of the pocket grunted at her (Dizzy Lizzy) a little and she rolled right past the leader and got there in time. I'm real honored to win the Billings Gold Cup for her connections." It was the 11th victory this year for Dizzy Rizzy, a 7 year old Ken Warkentin mare. She is owned by the Nick Surick Stables, J L Benson Stables and Hannah Miller. A rising star in the amateur ranks Lee's victory was his 15th this season after garnering 10 last year. His career began in 2010 but earnestly in just the past three seasons. The $15,000 Billings Silver Cup Final was also a big thrill for driver Bobby "Rapid Robert" Ciavardini who also scored the biggest victory of his career when he guided Baltimor AS to a 2:32.2 triumph As a youngster Ciavardini dabbled in harness racing but upon retirement from a professional career he got back into harness racing and his victory today was paramount to him, especially driving the family horse. Now with a new trainer Ciavardini and Baltimor AS started from the two hole and enjoyed a two-hole journey. Following the lead set by Fox Valley Steffen and driver by "Doctor John" Kokinos Ciavardini got lucky when Kokinos carried them all the way to the top of the stretch. At that point Ciavardini moved off the pylons and rallied his veteran trotter to a head triumph over Fox Valley Steffen. Peter "Enough Talk" Kleinhans finished third with Toss Cartwright. Baltimor AS is an 8-year-old Credit Winner gelding owned by Richard, Diane and Robert Ciavardini and trained by Tom Milici. Both races went as non-wagering events. by John Manzi for the Billings Series

Joe Lee, the New York Yankees assistant locker room manager and avid amateur driver, shocked the bettors at Monticello Raceway on Thursday July3) when he guided TKRs Metro Specs to a 1:58 victory in a Catskill Amateur Club Pace which in turn and sparked a $82.50 payoff. In all, three amateur contests dotted the 13-race Mighty M afternoon card; others were trots in the North American Amateur Drivers Association's Sumer Series. Alan Schwartz won his NAADA division with Ladys Big Storm in 1:59.4 while Dave Yarock reined Czech It Out to a 2:01.4 triumph in their split. Besides the foreboding rain the biggest topic of conversation among the railbirds was Joe Lee's shocker behind Woody Hoblitzell's TKR's Metro Specs. In this contest a sidebar could have been that three women were driving in the race but Lee's payoff stole the show. After starting from the eight- hole Lee send his pacer toward the front but they didn't gain command until they got around Bob Hechkoff's Italian Rebel as the quarter mile timer flashed :28.2. After passing the half in :58.2 Lee kept the pedal to the medal and turned back all comers to score a 1-1/4 length victory over Bob Davis and World Peace. One of the aforementioned ladies, Hannah Miller, finished third with Touchdown Mindale. "I've driven him (TKR's Metro Specs) a few times before and even won with him here at Monticello in late June," Lee offerred after the race "We were on the front-end in that one and I learned that he needs to be yelled at to keep him busy.So when we made the front today and headed to the half I screamed at him all the way home." In the first NAADA trot Schwartz also used the front-end with Ladys Big Stormont en route to victory over a fast-closing Landonfitz and Dave Yarock. Like TKRs Metro Specs , Schwartz' trotter didn't make the lead until the first stanza and even with early fractions of :27.3 and :58.3 Ladys Big Stormont held tough through the lane. Despite his shortening strides in the deep stretch Ladys Big Stormont held on for a head victory over Landonfitz. Permanent Joy took home the show dough for Bobby Krivelin. "My horse is best on the front-end but I can't always get him there," Schwartz offered. "When I race him from a hole he just doesn't like to pass horses. If we're third at the top of the stretch we'll probably finish third. "He was real good today probably because I had him turned out at my farm for three days and the green grass and the change of scenery seem to do something positive." Sent off as the betting favorite from the five-hole Ladys Big Stormont paid $5.80 for win. Dave Yarock got Czech It Out home first in the other NAADA Trot.After floating away from the four hole Yarock moved second-up behind Alan Schwartz with Keep It Sweet as the field headed to the halfway point. But when Schwartz's trotter began to fade nearing the three quarters Yarock wheeled Chech It Out three wide and in the deep stretch they wore down the pace-setter Highest Hill (Rich Gayten) for a length victory over Shez All Muscles and driver Bob Davis. Highest Hill held on for third. "The last time he (Czech It Out) raced he made a break behind the (starting) gate so I just wanted to keep him trotting. When I pulled him three wide up the backstretch he just kept rolling and we won it fairly easily," a happy Dave Yarock said Chezh It Out returned an $8.30 win mutuel. John Manzi

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