Yonkers, NY — After a false start last week, the North American Amateur Drivers Association’s 2021 season started in earnest on Thursday night (March 25) with two non-wagering trotting events at Yonkers Raceway. The first $8,000 split saw Joe Pennacchio and Keystone Blade make every pole a winning one en route to a 1:58.3 triumph, while the second $8,000 division ended in a rare dead heat when Stealing (Matt Zuccarello) and Fiji (Dave Offenberg) hit the finish line simultaneously in 2:01.
After starting from the pole position in their split, Pennacchio and Keystone Blade took command, leading If I Must (Paul Minore) by the quarter in :28.4 before then contending with Ladys Big Stormont (Alan Schwartz) and Dark Pool (John Calabrese). But neither were able to wrest command from “Joltin’ Joe,” whose Keystone Blade led all comers handily by three-quarters in 1:28. The veteran 8-year-old Yankee Glide gelding cruised home to win by 1-1/2 lengths over Dark Pool. Ladys Big Stormont was third.
The winner is owned by Joe P Racing and trained by Cory Stratton.
In the second split, Bob Hechkoff showed the early way with Pound Sterling after Fiji (Offenberg) ended his charge for the lead and settled in second after a :29.1 opening quarter. Meanwhile, Zuccarello moved Stealing from fifth and circled three-deep to range alongside Pound Sterling as the field headed into the homestretch. Still in control, Pound Sterling braced for late charges from Stealing and Fiji. In deep stretch, Zuccarello’s trotter surged his neck in front and was joined by Offenberg’s Fiji. When the photo finish camera snapped, the two couldn’t be separated resulting in a rare amateur racing dead heat. Exarch, driven by Tony Verruso, was elevated to third over Pound Sterling, who was ruled guilty of early interference.
Stealing is owned by Winners Circle Racing, Latz A Luck Stable, John Campagnuolo and trained by John Grasso. Fiji, who notched his second win in a row, is owned by Offenberg’s Allister Stables and trained by Noel Daley.