It was an Italian pride day at Freehold Raceway on Saturday (Jan. 21) as Tony Beltrami and Joe Faraldo each won a division of the American Harness Drivers Club amateur trots.
In the first division, there was a lot of early action with Spree, guided by Dante Scattolini, leaving hard and making First Gunner with Robert Hechkoff work hard to get the lead in a :28.3 quarter. All Rise, who also left and briefly tucked third, wanted the lead, so Tony Beltrami sent that charge entering the second turn and cleared the leg-weary leader just past the half. The duo opened about eight lengths on the field going up the backside, and they needed every inch of it as Finnick Odair with Melissa Arbia followed their bold move and Winneress, who won a leg of the series last week, mounted a furious late rush from behind all of them to be second, losing by only a length in a 2:01.2 mile.
All Rise, a six-year-old Conway Hall gelding, is owned by Beltrami and trained by Edwin Quevedo. Sent off as odds on favourite, he returned $3.40 to win.
In the second division, Joe Faraldo wasted no time and sent his trusty steed Grafenberg to the lead, clearing King Cast with Jim King Solomon pretty easily. Faraldo was able to rate an opening half of 1:01.3. Sensing pressure from Mouthpiece and Jacob Stillwell, Faraldo pressed on the gas and put away that first-over bid. He had plenty left to hold off a fast-closing Dark Pool with Tony Beltrami and stop the clock in 2:02.1. King Cast held on for the show prize.
Grafenberg, a five-year-old Triumphant Caviar gelding, is owned by Triple D Stables and trained by Scott DiDomenico. The gelding sent his backers home with a hefty payout to close the afternoon card, returning $25 to win.
There will be two more AHDC races next Saturday (Jan. 28) at Freehold.