The granddaddy of all amateur racing organizations, the CKG Billings Amateur Driving Series, which came to fruition nearly four decades ago, has been the inspiration for all the amateur clubs that have since evolved. And there are many, much to the delight of the participants as well of the harness racing secretaries. When there are events at two different venues on the same evening, one can begin to see the positive impact that amateur racing is having on the industry.
Earlier Saturday evening ( Nov. 11), a Billings Trot was slated at two different racetracks; one for the Midwest region members at Dayton Raceway in Ohio and another at Pocono Downs for members of the series’ Eastern region.
"Yankee Joe" Lee was victorious with Soul Train in a 1:57.4 clocking at Pocono Downs while Ned "the Insurance agent’ Hodkinson won the trot at Dayton Raceway with his own Mutinyonthebounty in a 1:58.4 clocking.
At Wilkes Barre, Pa., Lee went to post in an amateur race for the 79th time thus far this year and the New York Yankee’s assistant locker room manager notched his 14th seasonal triumph.
In his contest Lee got away softly from the pole position then picked up cover behind "Buffalo Bob" Davis with Dizzy Rizzy as the field headed to the halfway point. But as they neared the third stanza Lee wheeled Soul Train three-deep and they marched forward and at the top of the lane they were third. When the tight field headed for paydirt Soul Train began to ease away from his competition and went on to a 1-1/4 length triumph. Second place in that $12,000 contest went to Aventure driven by "Tough Tony" Ciuffetelli, Dizzy Rizzy hung on for the show dough.
The winner, owned by Blindswitch Racing, Good Friends Stable and Santo Farina , is trained by Al Annunziata. Sent off as the odds-on favorite, Soul Train paid $3.
Meanwhile, at Dayton Raceway in Ohio hot-handed Hodkinson added to his Midwest region point lead when he reined Mutinyonthebounty to a wire-to-wire triumph. But victory didn’t come easy with his trotter being challenged the entire mile by Keep the Cash (Patricia "the Write Stuff" Miller) and Fairground Drama (Rodney "Hot Rod" Bebeck).
Despite the challenges throughout, from the parked horses, Hodkinson managed to get away with fairly even fractions. When the bunched field headed for home Mutinyonthebounty hung tough and managed to rebuff Fairground Drama who was on his throat-latch throughout the final quarter. Kelly "Sky" Walker finished third with Stemilt Touch.
"He's such a nice horse," Hodkinson said referring to Mutinyonthebounty."He's so handy and well-mannered and he loves to race."
Hodkinson owns and trains the winner who returned a $10.40 win mutuel.