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Amateur Friendship Competition Begins

Published: August 5, 2018 11:56 pm ET

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The first leg of the Friendship Competition between members of the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) and the visiting Italians is now in the books and the Americans drew first blood when Joe Lee piloted On The Podium to a gate-to-wire victory at Yonkers Raceway on Sunday afternoon, August 5.

“He (On The Podium) was real good today,” Lee said by phone after his driving victory. “The last time I drove him, he was locked on one line but today he was nearly perfect.”

After leaving from the five-hole, Lee hustled his trotter away from the gate as three others went off stride before the first turn, which left On The Podium six lengths and all alone when he passed by the first stanza in :28.4.

Once clearly on top, Lee began to tap the brakes and they passed the halfway point in :59.2, amazingly some eight lengths ahead of Masster Blue, driven by Italy's Roberto Michelotto.

And when the two leaders headed up the backside, Michelotto closed the gap but Masster Blue still trailed On The Podium by three lengths. At the top of the lane, the lead was shortened to two lengths and Lee went to urging On The Podium. When they straightened for home, a battle ensued but Lee's charge dug in and kept Masster Blue at bay and held on for a head victory in a time of 1:59.2.

“I was glad to have an open-lengths lead when we headed for paydirt because I knew my trotter would fade in the deep stretch and that's exactly what happened. He barely had enough in the tank to hold off Michelotto's horse,” Lee added.

Third-place went to the Americans when Jennifer Lappe and Mighty Surf finished two lengths behind the leaders. And the NAADA team gained more points when Global Revolution, driven by NAADA's Peter Kleinhans, finished fourth.

Sent off as third choice in the eight-horse field, On The Podium paid $8.60, $4.80 and $5.10 across the board. Lee co-owns the winner with Blindswitch Racing and Anthony Nicometo.

Prior to the contest today at Yonkers, some of the visiting Italians raced in the Hambletonian Amateur Series on Friday at the Meadowlands and Italy's Roberto Michelotto won his division with Cheeky Little Minx in 1:55.1

The final two races in the Italy vs. NAADA Friendship Competition will take place on Tuesday (Aug. 7) at Monticello Raceway.

(With files from NAADA)

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