The Billings Series finals were held at a new venue this year and a few weeks earlier than in past seasons. When the events were completed, "Trader Bud” Hatfield emerged victorious in the $25,000 Delvin Miller Memorial Gold Cup Championship final while "Smokin' Joe” Faraldo copped the $15,000 Silver Cup Championship, both at Harrah's Philadelphia on Sunday, Nov. 18.
Hatfield won the 1 1/4-mile contest with Wolf's Jann in 2:31.2 and Faraldo's victory came behind Travelin Preacher in 2:31.4, also at a distance of 1 1/4 miles.
In the Gold Cup Championship, Trader Bud floated away from the gate with his trotting mare and once Bob "the Headhunter” Hechkoff , who was in front of him on the limb, found a hole with Tremendous Hit Hatfield decided to go the lead. Once he settled in on top Hatfield and Wolf's Jann coasted along by open lengths over the nine others in the contest. However in the homestretch Hechkoff rallied his trotter and they charged at Hatfield but Wolf's Jann had enough in the tank to fend off her challenger and score the victory, which by the way, was her fourth consecutive in the Billings Series.
Tremendous Hit and Hechkoff took home second money and Mike "the Mortgage Man” Mitchell was third best with B L Class Act.
"I didn't want to be on the front end but I had no choice after Bob (Hechkoff) got a hole. It was a slow quarter so I decided to go on to the front, " Hatfield explained. "She's (Wolf's Jann) been racing well lately so I just kept he busy and when we headed into the final turn I opened her up a bit and we needed the three-length lead we had because, not racing a mile and a quarter, I knew she's be a bit tired at the end. But the old gal had enough to win it.”
Wolf's Jann was sent off at odds of 4-5 and paid $3.60 for win. She's owned by her driver.
In the Silver Cup final, Faraldo made the best of racing luck and followed cover early with Travelin Preacher which eventually carried him all the way to the finish line where the duo ended up a solid one-length winner. They trotted by their cover, Howmuchubench and Kelly "Sky” Walker, in the deep stretch who had to a settle for second place . Famous Image and "Iron Mike” Eaton took home the show dough.
" I have to thank Kelly Walker for carrying me all the way,” Faraldo said. "He had the favorite(Howmuchubench) on the rail and they got away some five lengths off the gate when the race started. It was perfect for me because I got away slowly and when Kelly pulled-- around the three –eighths-- I trotted along four of five steps and then said to myself ‘get out behind him stupid' he's the best in the race.'
"I pulled my horse(Travelin Preacher) out behind him and we shadowed Kelly all the way to the deep stretch and when he went to the whip I knew we'd win it because my horse was still full of trot.”
Travelin Preacher, owned by Faraldo and Joseph Vance, paid $16.20 for win. (Billings)