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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 was eight weeks in the making and on Friday, August 5 the top point earners in the harness racing NAADA Summer Trotting Series convened at Yonkers Raceway for the $15,000 series finale and when the judges hung the official sign Toss Cartwright and driver Peter Kleinhans emerged victorious, a length better than Hannah Miller's Pine Tab in a 1:59.1 clocking. Although it was a non-betting race Pine Tab, off two consecutive victories, figured to be the one to beat and Alan Schwartz took that to heart. When the wings of the mobile gate folded Schwartz sent his Lady's Big Stormont for the lead and that move pushed Pine Tab to rebuff the challenge but the :28.1 first stanza took a toll on Pine Tab later in the mile. However, once Schwartz found a spot along the pylons Paul Minore moved Wygant Prince out to keep the pressure on Pine Tab and the two trotters were heads apart at the first half which was trotted in :58.2. They then raced side by side toward the third stanza but Miller's charge refuse to give an inch. Around the final turn the eventual winner was still three lengths behind Pine Tab who had put away Wygant Prince. But in the deep stretch trouble loomed for 'Hurricane Hannah' as the speedy first half began to take toll on Pine Tab and as the veteran tired and his strides shortened at which point Kleinhans saw a chance for victory and got after Toss Cartwright and the Muscles Yankee gelding rallied to a one length triumph over Pine Tab. Wygant Prince held on for the show dough. It was the third seasonal victory for Toss Cartwright who's owned by Colleen Cash and trained by John McDermott. For Kleinhans it marked his third seasonal triumph in just 10 trips to post this season and the 54th of his amateur driving career. by John Manzi for NAADA

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

Oh, if only Joe Faraldo knew how many times he had to go around on the half mile track in a mile and a quarter race perhaps he could have won two races tonight (July 28) at Cesena and boosted the USA's chances to at least make things closer in the Italian-American Challenge. But thank goodness for Tony Verruso and Alan Schwartz yelling out "Joe, we got a another round to go," did Joe start to drive again before pulling up thinking he had won". In the end the very heavy favorite driven by one of the three Italian champions they threw at the Americans, just buggy rode past a newly awakened Faraldo who ended -up second" said Alan Schwartz who garnered the show dough in that contest. But Faraldo's mistake was indeed costly. But truthfully, no one was beating the Italian champion even with a fautless drive. Verruso and Ciufettelli faced a wall of blocking Italians who demonstrated the art of team racing and how to measure points. In the next race, at a one mile distance, Joe once again found the front with "Only One Diamond" and he backed into every challenger over a measured first half and then poured on the gas for a faster last half to win for the second time in the six race USA-Italy Challenge. Tony Verruso, the Billings capo finished third after a little traffic trouble. All in all, the lost ground on day one couldn't be made up but the American team was valiant in their efforts in the last four races of the challenge. "The Italians put a hurtin on us early as we got acclimated to their driving style and we had to wade through the myriad of detailed instructions" said Alan Schwartz, the American with the most wins of any US competing amateur today. After all was said and done, the Italians, from Moretti, Ruffato, Zorretto, the brothers Mecheloto and Stefano De Lano could not have been more understanding and accommodating to their American friends. Touring Venice and Padova, a trip to the most famous Scuderia of the Biauzzi , to the he most enjoyable lunches and dinners at some of the finest restaurants in the Veneto region, especially the Villa Italia, in Padova the Italians treated their visitors like royalty sparing no expense to make team America feel most welcome just as the French had recently for a team of Americans in May. The intent now is to have the Italians come to America, perhaps around the time of the famed Hambletonian in August of 2018 for a rematch and hopefully for America, some final revenge. Truly making friends abroad, cultivating interest in our product and hoping to see a renaissance in Italy's harness racing as well as worldwide, takes work nothing else suffices. Many of the Italians are still interested in American blood and also wish to see the books of America and France opened for the betterment of the sport. According to Joe Faraldo, " when you hear Italian or other languages spoken at a US sale, like Harrisburgh or Lexington, remember these are people who love our sport and in Italy they are demonstrating much patience and love for the sport as you can see from the note below, and how they are all coping with a less than ideal situation. 'An interesting aside to the Italian trip concerns the Hippodromo (racetrack in Padova ) which because of the government's pull back of support for the industry, initially was just shut down. But then after three years it reopened with a disco open every evening with live music to attract young people despite racing only two days a week. On those two days the food at the track is free, but for drinks you must pay. There is outdoor seating with umbrellas at each table and areas some for children to play. As one might imagine attendance is up and so is wagering. In short, the track has been resurrected from the dead. The government still has the industry in a state of limbo and the horsemen have to wait seven months to get paid purse money and there's always the chance in Italy, that it might never happen. Like horsemen all over the world who keep this game going, those in Italy are survivors, because they truly love this sport." In Cesana, the track was so soft and perfect for the horses, not so much just for the timer. One could not hear these beautiful animals as they navigated this half mile oval near the sea. While we will not be there Saturday evening we are told the place is sold out. Apparently they are still doing somethings very, very right." By John Manzi  

Pasta with tears. Never heard of it? Well just ask the four Americans who were led to slaughter in Treviso, Italy in the first of three legs of the Italian American harness racing challenge rematch. In the two contest races today the Italians decimated the Americans. The best the visiting Americans could muster was a fourth place finish by Tony Ciuffetelli. Treviso is a 1,000 meter, or 5/8ths mile racetrack, and each race was predictably won by the Italians; Maurizio Scala won the first followed in the winners circle by the affable Giancarlo Moretti , whose famed Morano glass factory is world renowned. The unfamiliarity with the horses and surroundings didn't help the Americans but excuses aside, the Italians once again out-drove the Americans. ."We can't blame the horses, we can only blame ourselves", Faraldo reasoned. "But as it always seems when you don't do well there is always something or someone else to blame and the truth is when you don't drive well it is your own fault". However, both Tony's , Ciuffetelli and Verruso, drove well but the horses they drove could have been more competitive with those our Italian friends had. However, our hosts have been treating us as well as could be expected, especially with good food and great wine preparing us for what might well be out fate. As Mike La Chance once said after losing a race in Delaware, Ohio," I just turn the page and get ready for the next one." Tomorrow's races are at Padova and for us a fresh start. It has to get better, otherwise we Americans will have nothing to hope for but a good meal and more outstanding wine. If team USA fails to catch up to the seemingly insurmountable Italian lead by the final leg at Cesena on Friday, the former Italian amateur champion, Michele Canale and friends will be waiting to carve up the remainder of what may be left of our American team. While it is true that amateur racing is all about human relationships it is sad not to bring home the bacon while enjoying the tremendous hospitality of our Italian hosts. The American team will heed the advice of Mike La Chance and trek on behind the starting gate tomorrow. by Joe Faraldo, leader of the visiting American team, with help from John Manzi

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

There's an old adage that states 'it's hard to keep a good man down'. And that's usually the case. But the same could be said about "Hurricane Hannah" Miller when she once again stuck it to the boys in a NAADA Trot at Yonkers Raceway on Friday, July 21. The talented harness racing miss survived a rough journey with Pine Tab to score a 1:59.4 victory. It seems that Miss Miller is frequently starting from an outside post position and in her race tonight's race she had to navigate from post seven on the far outside But feeling that her trotter was up to the task she sent him for the front but ran into a buzz-saw when Richard Gayton, driving Highest Hill, wouldn't relinquish command when she came calling. And because of that they trotted by the first stanza in a swift :27.4 and it wasn't until both trotters came off the paddock turn side by side did Hannah and Pine Tab clear to the lead. "My horse left (the gate) good but when I got alongside Mr. Gayton I could see he had no intentions of letting me go," Hannah said. "When we finally got the lead I knew the swift early fractions were going to take a toll later in the race." Pine Tab led the field by the halfway point in :58 and was still safely in command when they passed the three quarter pole in 1:29. However, after rebuffing a challenge by Kelly Walker with Stemilt Touch Hannah and Pine Tab braced for Keenan and John Calabrese who were sailing along in the catbirds seat during the early going. And although Keenan was fresh he didn't have enough to overtake Pine Tab in the deep stretch and Calabrese and his trotter had to settle for second money.Toss Cartwright and Peter Kleinhans, who were in the back of the pack during the early going, got up for the show dough. "To be honest, my horse was tired as we headed down the stretch and I was so glad for the track change," Hannah said referring to the recently shortened the homestretch. Pine Tab, a veteran 8-year old Cantab Hall gelding is owned by JL Benson Stables and trained by Nick Surick. Tomorrow night Hannah will compete again when Yonkers Raceway hosts the Billings Series $15,000 East Region #1 Final. by John Manzi for NAADA

On Sunday (May 23) a contingent of amateur harness racing drivers representing NAADA will wing their way to northern Italy for a series of races against their Italian counterparts at racetracks in Treviso, Padova and Cesena. "Although the competitions don't start until Wednesday we're going a day early because of the time difference and we need to chill out and be at our best for the competitions," noted Joe Faraldo, president of NAADA and their team leader who recently won a race in Vincennes against the French amateurs. Faraldo will be joined by fellow NAADA reinsmen, Alan Schwartz, Anthony Verruso and Tony Ciufettelli and they will have to be at their best to be able to avenge the trouncing they received last year on American soil by the visiting Italians. "Winning or losing is incidental in these international driving competitions," Faraldo lamented "It's all about sharing the comradery we've fostered over the years and we, and they, look forward to these annual races in each of our countries." Although the Italian teams at the various venues are yet to be finalized among the Italian amateurs already set to compete include Michele Canali, Marco Lasi, Filippo Monti, Matteo Zaccherinni Giancarlo Moretti. Roberto Michelotto, Otello Zorzetto and Raffaello Ruffato. The partying will get underway just as soon as the American contingent lands on Italian soil and the following is the tentative itinerary Monday 24th: Welcome at Malpensa Airport in Milan 12 noon: Bus to Padova (short stop for quick lunch)6pm: arrive to Hotel Al Santo and relax8.30pm: Dinner at "Couver Tennis" Padova Tuesday 25th: 9 am: Bus to Venice and city tour (all day in Venice)Dinner: in either Venice or back to Padova Wednesday 26th: Morning: free time12.30pm: Bus to "Allevamento Biasuzzi" and visit to the Biasuzzi Centre6pm: Bus to Ippodromo Treviso (1st day races)10.30pm: dinner at the Ippodromo12 midnight: Bus to Hotel Thursday 27th: 9am start of Padova City Tour (no bus)3 pm: back to Hotel and relax7 pm: Bus to Ippodromo of Padova (2nd day of races)10.30pm: Dinner at "Villa Italia" Restaurant12.30am: bus to Hotel Friday 28th: Morning: free time3.30pm: Bus to Cesena (3rd day of races)Dinner at Cesena Ippodromo12.30am: Bus to Hotel Saturday 29th: back to Milan to expore the city and its bounties Sunday, 30th --back to the USA by John Manzi for NAADA  

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

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

Like the weather David Glasser is also heating up. The insurance and financial services professional notched his second harness racing victory in his last three trips behind the mobile starting gate when he reined Winwood Scout to a 1:59.1 wire- to- wire triumph in the fifth division of the North American Amateur Drivers Association's summer trotting series tonight (July 7) at Yonkers Raceway. Two weeks ago, on June 24th at Tioga Downs, Glasser was victorious with Celebrity Stimulus, another trotter that he owns, Up behind his own Winwood Scout tonight, Glasser hustled the veteran trotter to the front and they had a two-length lead on Rev It Now and driver Hannah Miller as they passed the first stanza in :28.4. From there Glasser let his horse breeze as the next two fractions of :59.4 and 1:29 flashed on the timer. After putting away Rev It Now, Winwood Court had a three-length lead on the final turn but braced from late challenges from Wygant Prince (Paul Minore) and Tony Verruso's Flirting Duezy. But through the lane Glasser's charge hung tough and went on to a one-length victory over Wygant Prince with Flirting Duezy garnering the show dough. After the race Glasser shared his thoughts "I drew the rail with a nice horse who fit the nw6001 class by $80," he offered, and then continued, "Scout gets fussy at the gate and I've lost him twice there in races at The Meadowlands (meaning he went off-stride) and I was determined not to let that happen tonight. After we got past the gate and to the front he knew what to do better than me." Winwood Scout notched his sixth victory in 16 starts this year and raised his lifetime earnings to over $280,000. Glasser scored his 4thseasonal driving victory and the 36th of his amateur career. By John Manzi for NAADA

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

On Sunday evening,( July 2nd,) at the Hall of Fame Banquet on the lawn of the Harness Racing Museum "Hurricane Hannah" Miller was presented with the Hall of Fame Amateur Driver's Award for the second consecutive season. Then the next day, she went out and won two amateur driving contests over the famed double oval at Historic Track. "Both horses were very good today," Hannah said via email. "I didn't really get the trip I wanted with Pine Tab in race seven but it ended up working out. "When we rounded the first turn in that one I was able to get a hole (along the pylons) but I didn't want to get locked in so I chose to move him early. We didn't clear Joe Pennacchio and Current Crisis until midway up the backstretch but once Pine Tab made the front he felt strong and went on to a two-length victory." After finishing back in Hidden Identity's last two starts Hannah decided to change her strategy and send the veteran trotter to the lead where he seems to race his best. On June 1st ,in a Billings Trot at Monticello Raceway, she put the grand old campaigner on the front-end and he went wire to wire to and scored an easy victory. "In Hidden's race today I was able to get him out of the gate good and get him to the front where he does his best work. We had a late challenge around the final turn but when I pulled the (ear) plugs we trotted away from LandonFitz (Dave Yarock) and were an easy three-length winner," Miller said, and then added "It was a great day overall and I was lucky to have my family with me." In the first Billings Trotting division Bobby "Hot Rod Chevie" Ciavardini won his first race since 1990 when he guided Baltimor AS to a 2:02.1 victory over Pocket Passer and driver Tony "the Capo" Verruso. After starting from the pole position Ciavardini took early command and then yielded to Pocket Passer and allowed him to cut the fractions. After rebuffing challenges, Verruso and his charge led the way until the top of the stretch where Ciavardini, who traveled along in the catbirds seat moved Baltimor AS out for the stretch run and they trotted away to a three-length triumph over Pocket Passer. Ciavadini had been a racing participant back in the 1980's but switched careers and returned to the racing venues recently after retiring from the construction business. "I didn't drive for 27 years, but about a month ago I got my first drive. I think this my fifth. Right now, I'm having a ball even though my wife thinks I'm crazy,"Ciavardini said with a chuckle. by John Manzi

It's not that Wygant Prince hasn't been a valuable commodity but in recent seasons the harness racing 10 year old has had only one win in 57 previous starts ,but the altered son of SJ's Photo put on his trotting shoes Friday night (June 30) in the NAADA Trot at Yonkers Raceway and turned the tables on those who have previously kept him out of the winners circle With owner, and longtime amateur driver Paul Minore at the controls the former high school coach took advantage of the two hole and sent his charge to the lead when the wings of the mobile gate folded and Wygant Prince led the field by the first stanza in :29.1. Perhaps by keeping a steady pace no one took a shot at the leader as the field approached the halfway point where the timer flashed 1:00.2. First to move was Hannah Miller with Rev It Now but they never ranged alongside to leader as Wygant Prince kept at his work and he was still in command as the field passed the third quarter in 1:29.3. However,in the lane Alan Schwartz, who was cruising along in the catbirds seat moved Ladys Big Stormont off the pylons to challenge for the lead but Wygant Prince was not to be denied and trotted on to a one length triumph in a 1:59.2 clocking over Schwartz's charge. Rev It now faded but hung on for third money. Despite having been lean in the win column over the past two seasons still Wygant Prince scored his 27th career victory and raised his lifetime earnings to over $350,000. And for Minore, who began his amateur driving career in 1994, he scored his 89th driving victory by John Manzi for NAADA

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