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Hefty purse for GSY Series final leg at Philadelphia
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - by Chris Tully

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Monticello, NY --- As the 2013 GSY Summer Pacing Series heads toward the final leg on Wednesday (Sept. 11), the participating horsemen and women are ecstatic over the generous $8,000 purse that Harrah’s Philadelphia has offered the amateur drivers.

Considering that the class of horse used for these events, $5,000 claiming pacers, generally races for about half that amount, finding willing contestants was not an issue.

“It is a win-win all around -- which bodes well for amateur racing and the harness industry,” exclaimed series founder and organizer David Yarock.

Chris Tully photo
GSY Pacing Series drivers gather in the winner's circle at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

Fresh off a pair of driving victories at another one of his successful endeavors, the All-Amateur Day at Monticello Raceway, the financial planner and active amateur driver noted that “the race at Chester (Harrah’s Philadelphia) is very competitive -- five or six horses have a shot at winning. It is our first time at this prominent venue and we want to put on a good show.”

Last week at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, and this week at Harrah's Philadelphia, the race is sponsored by Winners Circle Blueberries. Former trainer-driver and current Blueberry magnate Bill Augustine dusted-off his colors for the GSY series and makes his second start at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Augustine is not shy about his love of harness racing, stating, “Promoting the sport through amateur racing is a lot of fun and also supports a number of very worthwhile causes.”

Wild Bill needs a win at Philadelphia in order to advance into the final.

So far this season, this competition for amateur drivers has been hosted by eight different tracks in the northeast. The final of the series will be held Saturday (Sept. 21) at Freehold Raceway as part of the second annual Open Space Pace Day.

A total of 17 reinsmen and two reinswomen have driven in at least one leg. Only the top eight point winners earn a berth in the final.

The leading point winner in the GSY series is Robert “The Headhunter” Hechkoff. With 51 points, he has been the most consistent driver in the series, never missing a check in any of the seven previous legs and he has been five times 1-2-3. Hechkoff was named this year’s Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame’s amateur driving champion.

Tied for second place with 45 points each are drivers Monica Banca and Alan Charles.

Banca, whose horse Ruthless Ace was assigned the eight hole for this dash, comes into the race with a .622 UDR. In her first year of driving she has posted seven wins in just 15 starts. A full-time Standardbred trainer, Banca won her last two GSY series starts at Tioga and Pocono.

Charles, who raced a stable of horses at Yonkers during the 1990s, joined the amateur ranks a few years ago and is an energy consultant from New York City.

When developing this event, series founder David Yarock enlisted the guidance and assistance of two industry leaders to get it off the ground -- Jeff Gural and Jason Settlemoir. With their input and support the GSY Pacing Series has flourished, while also providing funding for a number of very important causes.

All monies raised are equally divided among:

  • The Magic Paintbrush Organization, a Southern Tier-based NGO, which provides facilitated workshops for thousands of individuals, infants through geriatric, diagnosed with a developmental disability (e.g. autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, cognitive delay).
  • Edward Weiner and Edward Yarock Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to individuals pursuing higher education related to the harness racing industry, as well as assistance for any individual in the harness racing community, including their children and/or family members, in their pursuit of higher education.
  • Open Space Pace seeks to highlight the relationship between the horse and open space in New Jersey. The annual event will raise funds to support non-profit organizations involved in the equine industry and the preservation of open space. The Open Space Pace will strive to increase awareness, educate the public, and stress the importance of open space in the Garden State.

Entries for the GSY Pacing Series eighth and final leg at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Wednesday (Sept. 11) are as follows:

Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML Odds
1. Charlie Leru, David Yarock, Dolores Basilone, 6-1
2. B B Smash, Matt Zuccarello, Matt Zuccarello, 15-1
3. Donnie Bop, Alan Charles, Marcus Marashian, 4-1
4. Needles And Pins, Mark Schullstrom, Peter Stratton, 10-1
5. In The Mix, Theresa Donnelly, John Berger, 20-1
6. Hickory Louie, William Augustine, Robert Lounsbury, 6-1
7. Danger Sign N, Robert Hechkoff, Brandon Simpson, 9-2
8. Ruthless Ace, Monica Banca, Rick Dane, Jr., 5-2
9. Captain Greg, Peter Kleinhans, Tony Dinges, 8-1


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