By John Manzi
SULLIVAN COUNTY March 29, 2002 Once again theres great interest for Monticello Raceways Passover Pace, the race for Jewish drivers held here during the Passover Holiday.
The fourth edition of the race is set to go to post. This coming Tuesday, April 2, the fifth day of the Passover Holiday.
We initiated this race a few years ago as a lark but it has grown to an annual event, said raceway general manager Shawn Wiles. Not only is it enjoyed by the racing fans but looked forward to by those who participate in it.
Among the drivers wholl be competing include former winner Dr. Douglas King, along with Alan Schwartz, Barry Segel, Ivan Katz, Murray Bassen, Mark Liebowitz, Derrick Giwner, Dave Offenberg, Alex Doc Savran and P.J. Lutman III.
Last season Jack Rice won the event in 1:59:1 with Wildfire King. But this year Rice is competing at Pocono Downs and will not be available to defend his crown.
According to Warner those drivers who can supply their own horses can insure a start in the Passover Pace.
As always, getting horses for the participants to drive is the hardest part, Warner added.
In order to be eligible to compete in the Passover pace drivers must have an A or P license from the United States Trotting Association and most importantly, must be of Jewish heritage.
Old Warhorse Stormy Alex Wins Again
Last week I expounded on the eye-opening way in which the old warhorse Stormy Alex defeated the best pacers on the ground even after being roughed up in the early going and still having enough in the tank to score a 1:58:2 victory.
Yes, I was impressed by Alexs gritty performance and surprised that the bettors sent him off at odds of over 10-1.
This past Monday, Stormy Alex again took on the best pacers on the grounds and despite his impressive victory in his previous start the bettors still didnt jump on his bandwagon.
But they should have!
With Dave Marshall again at the controls the 8-year-old gelding bolted to the lead and was never headed, pacing a last quarter in 28:4 en route to a 1:57:4 clocking turning back a late challenge from the betting favorite, Raque Balboa who was driven by Danny Cappello, Jr.
I watched again, but not with amazement this time, as Alex raised his career earnings to over $150,000 with his victory. But what did amaze me was why the bettors didnt get a bigger piece of Alex. They sent him off at odds of better than 5 to 1 and Stormy Alex paid a hefty $13.20 for win.
Blacharski, Frocione Winners in World Cup Elims at Yonkers
After driving victories by both Walter Blacharski and Lon Frocione in the World Cup of Amateur Racing Eliminations at Yonkers Raceway on March 21 each has gained valuable points in their quest to earn a berth in the series final at Pompano Park on May 3.
Blacharski, who has recovered nicely from a debilitating accident at Monticello Raceway last fall, reined his Eurorail to a neck victory in 2:06:1 over Joe Faraldos Spring Glide.
Frocione gunned Kernal Seelster to the front away from the gate and was never headed in his division, holding off favored Lil Grum and driver Bob Krivelin, for a head victory in 2:06:4
With his victory Blacharski now has 19 Eastern Regional points and is currently in second place behind Alan Schwartz, who has 28 after a fifth place finish at Yonkers.
Frocione garnered 11 in his only appearance thus far in the four-race elimination series in the east region which places him tied for sixth place.
Dave Offenberg, who finished fourth at Yonkers with Mikes A Mystery, is currently in third place with 16 points. Tied for fourth, each with 12 points, are Bob Krivelin and Tony Verruso. Paul Minore, who is 3rd at Yonkers with Best Looking Guy, is tied for sixth with Frocione with 11 points.
Only the top four in points in the Eastern Regionals are guaranteed to make the trip to Florida for the May 3 finale. They will be joined at Pompano Park by the top four point-earners in the yet to be contested Mid-West Regionals along with the fifth highest point-earner from either region. Then the winner of the eliminations finale at Pompano will represent the United States in the World Cup of Amateur Racing in Denmark in late July.
One more leg remains in the Eastern Regionals on March 28 again at Yonkers Raceway. The four-race Mid-west Regionals dont get underway until April 1 with a leg at Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio.