By John Manzi
SULLIVAN COUNTY April 5, 2002 It didnt come easy. Milestones usually never do.
After weeks of apprehension Betsy Phillips of Middletown finally notched her 500th career victory reining 9-1 longshot, Overall Odds, to a 2:08:2 trotting victory at Monticello Raceway on April 1.
I was beginning to think I never was going to win my 500th race, Phillips explained. I dont know if I was too tense or trying too hard but I just could not seem to get that victory. There were many times, even at the top of the stretch, that I though I was going to get it but someone always seemed to beat me out in the final strides.
But victory finally came her way.
Up behind her sisters Overall Odds, Betsy was content to sit a pocket trip and used the passing lane to perfection as she hustled the 8-year-old gelding to a half-length victory in the final strides over pace-setter Kits Pick who was driven by Jimmy Devaux.
With that triumph Phillips joins elite company as she now is the fifth winningest female driver in the history of the sport. Only Bea Farber (1803); Jacquie Ingrassia (973); Kelly Case (738) and Anne Wheeler (723) have won more races than the diminutive 5-2 Phillips.
Betsy, who began her career at Monticello in 1978, didnt win her first race until 1980. Her most prolific season was 2000 when she reined 55 winners.
Schwartz Wins Passover Pace IV
Had it not been that the race was for pacers, one could have easily mistaken the recent Passover Pace IV a race for Jewish drivers only as a Billings event. After all, the majority of the participants were accomplished Billings-eligible amateur drivers.
Though he is, and will always remain an amateur, winning driver Alan Schwartz is a force to be reckoned with whenever hes in a sulky. With more than 125 victories in his hobby and part-time career, Schwartz added another triumph to his resume winning the fourth edition of Monticello Raceways Passover Pace IV on April 2.
Up behind the Jimmy Clouser-trained, Mac Wildwood Nukes, Schwartz had the backing of the gambling public as they sent him off as a prohibitive favorite. And he didnt let them down as he guided his pacer to a wire-to-wire, two-length triumph in 2:04:3. He turned back a late charge from fellow Billings participant, Dave Offenberg, who was driving Tees Hero.
Former Passover Pace champ, Dr. Doug King he won Passover Pace II with PD Bunny finished third with L Madre.
As a rule I never look at the (odds) board but I just couldnt help noticing that they bet me down to (odds of) 1-5, Schwartz said in the winners circle after his victory. I know there were just five others to beat but I thought my horse didnt appear to stick out that much in this field.
Schwartz, a former Billings driving champion as well as a former Amateur Driver of the Year and a past U.S. representative to the prestigious World Cup of Amateur Racing, always seems to carry a high UDRS. In fact, his victory Tuesday with Mac Wildwood Nukes in the Passover Pace was Schwartzs third win in nine Mighty M starts this year. And with a second and two thirds to go along with his victories hes currently carrying a hefty .469 UDRS at Monticello.
Schwartz also was the point-winner in the recently completed Eastern Regionals of the 2002 World Cup of Amateur Racing Qualifiers and now has a chance to once again represent the United States in that prestigious event if he is victorious in the series final at Pompano Park in early May.