By John Manzi
SULLIVAN COUNTY March 22, 2002 Undoubtedly there were hunch players looking for something Irish to wager on at Monticello Raceway on St. Patricks Day.
And had they waited until the final race on that Sunday afternoon card their wish would have come true.
Among the starters in the eight horse field was a foreign-bred pacer with the apropos name of Irish Lad.
How wonderful, Irish Lad was racing on St. Paddys Day!
Got to get me a piece of him, said one Mighty M regular to his comrade prior to the start of the race.
Yeah but hes in deep, chimed his friend who was plunking down on the favorite in the race, Western Hopalong, from the rail.
Thats OK, the first said to his pal. Im going with the Irish horse.
And he was glad he did.
With John Gilmour aint he Irish, too aboard, Irish Lad, owned by Alan Cohen of Brighton, MA, sat off the early pace. He then rallied in the stretch to post a length victory in 2:00:3 over Go Gettem Stormy and Claude Huckabone III.
Faith in the green paid off for all the hunch bettors that day as Irish Lad paid $9.80 for the win.
Stormy Alex Wins Weekly Pacing Feature
Winning weekly features is nothing new for the grand ole campaigner, Stormy Alex. Over the past four years Stormy Alex, who is owned and trained by Tony DelPriore, has amassed more than $125,000 while racking up numerous victories here against the best horses on the ground.
Now eight years old and still going strong, Stormy Alex gave this writer a real thrill as I watched Dave Marshall drive him to victory last Sunday afternoon. That he won wasnt so thrilling. It was the way he did it.
Starting out of the five-hole, Marshall gunned Stormy Alex for the lead away from the gate. They rushed up alongside Jimmy Devauxs Laughem Silly in the turn and everyone figured that Devaux would let Marshall take the lead. That precise thought must have gone through Scott Scofields mind as he moved his charge Lake Hills Pete to the outside behind Stormy Alex, obviously with thoughts of gaining command from Marshall after Devaux let Stormy Alex go.
But Devaux played hardball and didnt let Stormy Alex take the lead. Or at least he tried to make it real tough for him. But Marshall was committed and with urging Stormy Alex paced by Laughem Silly at the quarter as the timer flashed a very quick 27.3 seconds.
However after he gained command with Stormy Alex, Marshall kept Lake Hills Pete parked out. The two pacers passed the half in a stiff 57.1 seconds and most figured that the winner of the race will be one of the come-from-behind horses since the ones on the front end were used hard in the early going.
Stormy Alex had command passing the three quarter pole in 1:28.1 and now braced for the challenges.
First to test the ole timer was Life Is A Cabernet, as driver Bob DAgostini rushed him up alongside Stormy Alex as they headed into the final turn.
Alex was up to the challenge and held Life Is A Cabernet at bay. Laughem Silly, who had a perfect two-hole trip behind Stormy Alex, figured to be the strong horse in the lane. The 27.3 first quarter took a toll on Laughem Silly and he came up empty in the deep stretch.
However, out of the pack came Bruce Aldrich Jr. with More To Life, the pacer we have been following, the one that won seven in a row earlier this year.
More To Life was charging at the wire but ole Alex staved him off, too, for a half-length victory in 1:58.2.
Those who backed Stormy Alex were rewarded with a $23.40 mutuel payoff.