In the past Monticello Raceway has had full wagering cards featuring only trotters or pacers and a full program of amateur races, but not until July 4th did the Mighty M have a complete race card featuring just two-year-old colt and gelding pacers, most of which were making their pari-mutuel debuts.
Sandwiched in an unusual time slot between 5:30 pm and 9:15 pm were six divisions of the $145,000 NYSS and five $12,700 splits in the Excelsior Series, followed later by the track's 45th annual fireworks display.
Mark MacDonald accepts the trophy from Joey Chindano after winning an Excelsior Series pace with Not My First Rodeo. Chindano, is the 12-year-old youngster who won a matinee race at Goshen in late June. (Geri Schwarz photo)
On the race track the action was sparkling and every NYSS division was in 1:57.4 or faster with Thirty Two Red’s 1:56 triumph the fastest of the evening. Co-owner Ray Schnittker was in the sulky and sent the son of Bettors Delight to the front from the six hole and cruised to an easy :59 half mile clocking.
Up the backside when Tim Tetrick sent Doctor Butch out for the chase the fractional times sped up and a real horse race ensued. Around the final turn Tetrick had Doctor Butch in high gear which forced Schnittker to get after his colt a bit. And Thirty Two Red dug in and kept Doctor Butch at bay to score a 1:56 victory.
With many of the co-owners around for the picture presentation Schnittker, who has been known not to get too high on his up and coming youngsters was gushing about Thirty Two Red.
“He’s a really good colt and he might be the one to get me over the top,” a smiling Schnittker told everyone within ear shot. “I think they’re gonna hear a lot from him this year.”
But Schnittker’s colt wasn’t the only one that impressed. In the first $24,248 division Jeff Gregory, driving Im The Real Major for the first time, needed every bit of a sizzling :56.2 final half to collar the leader Story Book, driven by Larry Stalbaum, and then go on to a length victory in 1:57.4.
It was the son of Art Major’s second consecutive win and Gregory had a grin from ear to ear. “He’s a little guy but he’s real handy and he does whatever you ask of him,” he said. “He’s got a real big motor.”
Scalped, another son of Bettors Delight got into a real dog fight with Deny Deny Deny when the two colts raced head-to head from the three quarter pole to the wire. In the lane it wasn’t clear who the winner would be but after urging from Jason Bartlett Scalped held off Deny Deny Deny and Tim Tetrick by a neck in a 1:57 clocked mile.
After a :59.2 half and a 1:29.1 third quarter clocking the pace really quickened when Tetrick’s colt challenged Bartlett’s and the two leaders sped to a :27.4 final quarter.
“He (Scalped) was pacing along leisurely and only got interested when Tim’s colt came at us,” Bartlett said. “We were working hard (on our colts) through the stretch and we battled all the way to the wire.”
In yet another NYSS split Swift As A Shadow, another son of Bettors Delight, enjoyed a two-hole journey before popping out off the pylons in the lane and rallying to a 1:56.4 triumph for Tim Tetrick. Pacesetter Deal Maker and Larry Stalbaum were second.
“He’s just a little guy,” Bartlett pointed out in the winner’s circle, “but he’s got a world of speed.”
However the final results might have been different if the John Campbell-driven Odds On Equuleus stayed at his work on the final quarter.
“We were making a big charge past at the three quarters but when my colt saw the draw gate and he tried to run out,” Campbell said of the colt who was making his first start on a half mile track. “He’s got lots of talent and he’ll get over that.”
Bartlett won another NYSS division with Americasgottalent in 1:57.1. The son of American Ideal was a head winner over Framed Art and John Campbell.
Tertick also won another NYSS split when he drove Tijuana Party, a son of Badlands Nitro, to a head victory over A Bettor World (Jason Bartlett) in a 1:57.4 clocking.
The winners of the Excelsior Series splits were: LaRussa StL (Jason Bartlett) in 1:58.2; Clustercuss (Mark MacDonald) in 1:59.2; Scirocco Billy (Greg Merton) in 2:00.3; Ten Cents A Shine (John Stark, Jr.) in 2:01 and Not My First Rodeo (Mark MacDonald) in 2:02.