Egosnattitudes Scores Maiden Win in RUS Thriller at Rosecroft

Allan Schott for RUS MidAtlantic

Fort Washington, MD - With the absence of No Recess, the $2,500 Rosecroft leg of the RUS MidAtlantic series looked like a two-horse race between Atout De Fontaine and perennial favorite Hyway Marcus.  Well, a two-horse race it was but it was another Sofia Zingale-trained horse, Egosnattitudes who crashed the party to win a thrilling duel in his maiden RUS start with a mile in 2:00.  The field was reduced to four with the defection of One True Friend who was scratched Saturday.

When the gate opened, Hyway Marcus (Sasha Moczulski) quickly left to get the first call while Egosnattitudes (Sofia Zingales) raced two-wide around the first turn.  By the time Hyway Marcus reached the first quarter, he had a four-length lead over Egosnattitudes in a :28.3 split.  As the duo hit the stretch for the first time, Ego quickly closed on the race leader, racing on the outside to be only a head behind Marcus as the tandem reached the half in :58.3.

Determined to protect his rail advantage, Hyway Marcus continued to park his opponent.  At one point, Egosnattitudes got the lead but by the time the two horses reached the third station in 1:28.1, Hyway Marcus still had a nose advantage.  Marcus attempted to put some more distance between the two, managing a lead of a head over Ego as the duo reached the top of the stretch.  As much as Marcus dug in, Egosnattitudes was not to be denied and by the time the pair reached the wire, it was Egosnattitudes out-grinding Hyway Marcus to score a three-quarter length victory over the RUS veteran.  The other Zingale-trained horse, French trotter Atout De Fontaine (Maria Buchanan) was three lengths further back in third. Puddin N Pie (Stephanie Jacobs) finished fourth.

This concludes the 2018 RUS MidAtlantic series.  Plans are already being made for next year’s series.  Any new tracks (fair or pari-mutuel) wishing to be part of the 2019 RUS MidAtlantic series may contact RUS MidAtlantic at     

Quintet to Battle in RUS Tilt at Rosecroft

(Fort Washington, MD) - A field of five racing under saddle trotters descend upon Rosecroft Sunday evening, November 4, 2018, in the third and final leg of the RUS MidAtlantic Trotting Series.  The non-wagering race has an anticipated post time of 7:30pm, to be contested between the third and fourth races on the wagering program.

All-time favorite Hyway Marcus (Sasha Moczulski, pp 4) returns looking to repeat his victory in last year’s event.  Finishing second in his last start to No Recess who is bypassing this race, Hyway Marcus is coming into the race with a rare two race losing streak.  Atout De Fontaine (pp 1) appears to be the main challenger, having finished third in his first North American start and picks up rider Maria Buchanan for trainer Sofia Zingale who will be riding his stablemate Egosnattitudes (pp 3) who will be making his first start.  Other starters in the race will be Puddin N Pie (Stephanie Jacobs, pp 2) who finished fifth in his first start and the lone mare, My True Friend (Hillary Hartnett, pp 5).

There will be a meet and greet before and after the race.  Race fans will be able to talk to the riders and ask any questions they may have about racing under saddle.  Post time for the first race is 6:40pm.

No Recess is a Double Threat

By Allan Schott for RUS MidAtlantic

Fans of racing under saddle (RUS) have taken notice of ‘new’ rider Sietske Dijkhof and her horse No Recess which have raced on the RUS MidAtlantic and RUS New York circuits this past season as the team went a perfect three for three this year including a sparkling 1:59 mark at Meadowlands Racing and Gaming.  What also drew the attention of fans was the two victories No Recess had ‘in sulky’ during the period the horse was racing under saddle, earning two of the three sulky victories for the year as of the time this article was written.  We talked to Sietske and her boyfriend, trainer Kyle Spagnola about No Recess and the improvement seen in No Recess while doing double duty. 

No Recess (Sietske Dijkhof) qualifying at Saratoga Casino and Hotel.  Kyle Spagnola photo.

No Recess (Sietske Dijkhof) qualifying at Saratoga Casino and Hotel. Kyle Spagnola photo.

First, Dijkhof is no new rider.  Born and raised in the Netherlands, Sietske has been around standardbreds from birth as her parents used to be trainers.  When her parents left the game, she continued working in the industry.  Loving riding, the connection with the horse, as well as the speed involved in monté (the European term for RUS) racing she became a rider back home.  So, while it may appear a new rider has appeared in the RUS universe, it is really a reconnection of old friends.  

How did Dijkhof and Spagnola make the decision to use No Recess?  After Spagnola Racing LLC acquired the trotter, it was noticed the nine-year-old altered son of Rich Boy-Riann Photo (SJ’s Photo) had raced back in 2016 under saddle, learning his lessons from rider Michelle Crawford and finishing third in his only purse start at Ocean Downs behind RUS favorites Mr Protab and Highway Marcus.  After a couple of rides, it was decided to give No Recess another go under saddle, especially since he is not a horse inclined to make breaks.  After two RUS qualifiers between pari-mutuel starts, it was time to make their first purse start at Batavia Downs Gaming where No Recess won by a length.  Subsequent victories at Saratoga (four lengths) and the Meadowlands (ten lengths) proved their faith in the horse well deserved.

“Yes, I do believe it helps him mentally”, says Dijkhof when asked if racing No Recess under saddle has helped his sulky career,” he seems to enjoy the races under saddle and doing something else makes the nine-year-old gelding happier”.  As for training the horse to race under saddle, surprisingly the trotter doesn’t train for the races.  Being a veteran, No Recess knows the game. Racing every week, one way of another, keeps the horse sharp. Skipping the Rosecroft race due to the distance the horse would have to travel, Sietske wished there were more RUS races available either in a circuit or as overnight events.  “I wish there were more races right now, so he could do both and keep his mind ‘fresh’.  

There has been some discussion as to whether RUS should be expanded to allow pacers to race under saddle.  As of now, there has been no movement on the contentious issue but as far as this rider is concerned, she takes the attitude of ‘bring it on’, the more races under saddle the better. 

Of course, racing in non-betting races is one thing, but what about having RUS on the wagering card.  We asked Kyle Spagnola whether he would race horses in his stable in RUS events if there was wagering and he has no problem with entering horses in under saddle races, but he indicated it would be hard to persuade owners to enter horses in non-wagering events at the current purse levels.  “Owners want to make money and win races.  At the level [purses] it is right now, people are not going to invest in horses for RUS when they can race for much more money in the bike”, Spagnola said.  Getting trainers to enter horses in RUS with the current purse structure is difficult as there are more profitable races to compete in.  But if purses increase he feels trainers will support RUS.  No doubt the caliber of horses entering would be higher.  

So, what is more difficult, racing in the bike or under a rider?  Kyle’s take? “I think it’s easier if they are gaited well enough to do it [RUS] because they don’t have to pull the bike and they don’t have to ride as wide”.   Since racing under saddle appears to be easier, participating in RUS is a great way to extend a horse’s career, possibly helping with future horse shortages.

Yes, groups like RUS MidAtlantic have challenges to move on to the next level to get wagering on RUS races and promote interest in standardbreds and harness racing.  Perhaps it is best said by Spagnola. “Overseas there are a lot of racing under saddle events and it seems like people are excited about it”.   

No Recess Scores Convincing RUS MidAtlantic Victory at Meadowlands

No Recess returning to Meadowlands’ winner circle after winning the RUS MidAtlantic Trot. Photo courtesy of Clarissa Coughlin.

No Recess returning to Meadowlands’ winner circle after winning the RUS MidAtlantic Trot. Photo courtesy of Clarissa Coughlin.

(East Rutherford, NJ) – A field of eight trotters converged on Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment Saturday (October 20, 2018) night to compete in the second leg of the RUS MidAtlantic series.  When the dust settled, No Recess, ridden by Sietske Dijhkof scored a convincing ten length victory, stopping the teletimer at 1:59 over the fast track.   Hyway Marcus finished second while French trotter Atout De Fontaine, making his first start in North America and first overall since April at Angers in France, finished third a half-length further back.

When the gate opened, Hyway Marcus went right for the lead with Atout De Fontaine pushing the perennial circuit winner to the first quarter, parked in a :28.3 split.  Keenan, taking advantage of the rail position managed to get away third with Funny Photo parked fourth.  No Recess, the eventual race winner got away sixth.

Through the rest of the race to the three-quarter marker, the race was close as Hyway Marcus took the field through fractions of :57.3 and 1:28.3.  By the time the field reach the three-quarters, a stalking No Recess, made up enough ground to be second.  Funny Photo, who was parked the entire way was third. 

Once the field hit the stretch, No Recess hit his best stride opening a two-length lead over Hyway Marcus, who used early was unable to engage the leader.  Continuing his drive, Recess was the victor by open lengths.  Atough De Fontaine, fourth at the top of the stretch managed to finish third just behind Marcus as the tough trip took its toll on Funny Photo who managed to hold on to fourth, two lengths further behind.  Puddin N Pie, making his first start under saddle picked up the final purse check in fifth.  Finishing further behind (in order) were Keenan, One True Friend, and Credit Blues.

The winner is a nine year-old altered son of Rich Boy – Riann Photo by SJ’s Photo and is trained by Kyle Spagnola for Spagnola Racing, LLC.  With Saturday’s victory, Sietske Dijhkof now has a riding record of 4-3-0-1 for 2018.

The final leg of the RUS MidAtlantic series will be contested at Rosecroft on Sunday, November 4. 


Wide Open Field Meets in RUS MidAtlantic at Meadowlands

(East Rutherford, NJ) – A field of eight trotters will be competing in the $3,000 RUS MidAtlantic Trot at Meadowlands Gaming & Entertainment Saturday night, October 20, 2018.  Post time for the non-wagering racing under saddle event will be 7:00pm, prior to the first wagering event on the card.  Four of the eight horses figure to be competing for the major spoils in this miler with a fifth horse providing a little foreign intrigue.

Funny Photo (Sophie Engerran; post position six) comes into the race with a 5-2-3-0 record for the season for owner/trainer/rider Engerran.  The nine-year-old altered son of Classic Photo was the winner of the RUS New York Fair Final at Monticello Raceway in early September, crossing the line in a 2:02.4 romp.    Most recently, Funny Photo has a pair of second place finishes at Batavia and Saratoga. 

A year off from RUS must have been what the doctor ordered for No Recess (Sietske Dijhkof; post seven) as the nine-year-old son of Rich Boy has scored two speedy victories over the upstate New York half mile ovals.  At the end of September, No Recess scored a 2:02.1 victory at Batavia while this past weekend, the gelding made an early break yet went on to win by four lengths at Saratoga in 2:02.2.  The question is will No Recess be able to take advantage of the mile oval to set a new lifetime mark in victory?  Kyle Spagnola is the trainer.

Normally, Hyway Marcus (Sasha Moczulski, post eight) would be the automatic selection on the RUS MidAtlantic circuit but he is meeting some speedy types here[AS1] , so the outcome is far from certain.  The seven-year-old Gut Instinct gelding suffered a rare miscue at Saratoga in his last start getting caught in close quarters.  Marcus was able to recover and get within a length of the leader at the three-quarter pole but being parked out after the break took its toll and resulted in his tiring to finish third.  Despite post position eight, he figures to be in the thick of things for his owner/trainer/driver.

One True Friend (Hillary Hartnett, post five) comes into the race with a question mark but can step up and be a factor.  The lone mare in the race shows a couple of breaks of late and in her last start, Hartnett lost her irons at the start of the race requiring the horse to pull up before the finish.  Despite this, the mare stayed flat before being pulled up.  An early season qualifier of 2:02.1 over a sloppy Vernon Downs oval shows ‘Trudy’ belongs in the race and can be competitive should she manage to stay out of trouble.  Wesley Miller trains OTF for owner/rider Hartnett.

A French-bred horse making his American debut under saddle?  This is the case with Atout De Fontaine (Sofia Zingale; post position four), an eight-year-old gelding by Oxford Du Rib – Mistina De Traqui by Quebir De Chenu.  ADF came to the United States to take part in the France-America series at Yonkers but he made it abundantly clear he didn’t care for the American game.  However, a 2:05.2 victory in a Rosecroft qualifier for trainer/rider Zingale would suggest a return to the saddle is what is needed for Fontaine who has a 1:56 mile rate mark in monté racing in Europe.  He is a wild card in this event.   

Other starters in the race (from post one out) are Keenan (Maria Buchanan) who is making his first start under saddle in 2018 and Credit Blues (Stephanie Jacobs) who is making his first lifetime start off a 2:06.3 qualifying effort at Ocean Downs in early August.  Another first timer is Puddin N Pie (Vanessa Karlewicz) who makes his debut off a second-place finish in a Rosecroft qualifier.