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East-West amateur driving challenge set for March
Friday, February 23, 2007 - by David Siegel

Sacramento Harness Association (SHA) has set the dates for the second annual East-West Invitational Driving Challenge. It will be hosted at the Cal-Expo oval on Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31.

SHA has invited “Team East” which will be comprised of five of the nation’s top ten C.K.G. Billings Drivers. “Team West” is made up of five California-based drivers invited by SHA to compete.

Michelle Ruvola (44-Illinois), Joe Faraldo (61-New York), Peter Gerry (61-New Jersey), Gene Miller (63-Michigan) and Todd Whitney (44-Maine) round out the geographically and age-diversified East team. This team, loaded with experience, will take on the relatively inexperienced upstarts from the Golden State – David Siegel (48), Benny Alvarez (34), Jim Foley (20), Alan Kirschenbaum (45) and James Guagliardo (27). In 2006, the home field advantage prevailed over experience with the West Team nudging out the East Team for top honors.

The winners will be determined by a point system. The six race series will feature a random driver draw and a variety of classes.

California amateur racing, which was reborn in 2005 during the California State Fair, has enjoyed much interest from the wagering public, and have averaged equal or higher handles than similarly slotted non-amateur events.

“We are so thrilled by the ‘Challenge’ coming next month,” commented California Amateur Driving Club (CADC) president David Siegel. We have a solid amateur program in place, with a revised format for our upcoming spring series starting in April. We have a wonderful mix of owners, trainers, assistant trainers and grooms racing here in our amateur events and this event is a great kick-off to our spring events. We are also so very lucky to have horsemen who clearly understand both the short-term and long-term benefits of a solid amateur program. Ours is already paying some dividends to the backstretch.”

Siegel went on to say, “the highlight of our program is now the annual East-West Challenge. The public will get to see and wager on six very interesting races with a great new twist. Our guests get to experience driving on a new track in a different neck of the woods. Our professional drivers get to watch and be excited or amused, whatever the case might be as we try to upset these Billings pilots, but most of all, five of us get to drive in an awesome event.”

Sacramento Harness Association General Manager and USTA director Chris Schick commented, “We really think this is an exciting concept and expect it to be very competitive once again in 2007 and provide for great viewing and wagering.”

C.K.G. Billings president and 2007 participant, Peter Gerry, commented, “We appreciate the California Club’s efforts and the SHA’s cooperation with this great program. After hearing about what a great time our 2006 representatives had, too many of our members wanted to come represent the East this year. What a nice problem to have!”

To help promote the event, TrackMaster, provider of harness racing information to the wagering public and USTA partner, will be offering free handicapping products for the race days of the Challenge.

More information is available at the CADC web site at www.thecadc.com