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 $6,000 splits. Lee was a convincing winner behind Soul Train in 1:58.3 while Stoebe was home free with Uriel in a 1:59 clocking. Both horses used the front-end route to victory.
Named the sport's 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 seven- year-old Trainforthefuture gelding.
In her division, 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, Stoebe 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 seven-year-old Explosive Matter gelding gave Stoebe her second Billings victory of the fledgling season.
Next Billings action will be at Saratoga Raceway on Friday, June 15.
(With files from Billings Series)