By John Manzi
SULLIVAN COUNTY June 21, 2002 Last Sunday we drew 50 names to be mythical owners of the Peoples Pacer and this Sunday well draw the names of the final 50. If all those whose names have been drawn follow the rules for the Own A Horse promotion, they will share in the purse money won by the horse during the period of June 30 through September 1.
The Peoples Pacer this year is Vans Cam, owned by Herb Weiss and trained by Joe Minieri. The pacer is currently racing in $5,000 claiming races and has already won 9 races this season.
Hell make his first start for the mythical owners on June 30 and race every Sunday throughout the summer.
And on the subject of mythical owners, a former mythical owner, Keith Hopper from Wurtsboro, is now a real owner enjoying a good time with his race horse and making money to boot.
He purchased Mind Games for a scant $2,000 a few years ago and now has earned over $30,000 with the pacer.
Last Sunday Mind Games, now being trained by Mike Spano, went wire-to-wire, winning in a new lifetime record of 1:57:1 and defeating the best pacers on the grounds. He was driven by Mike Merton.
Heritage Final Goes
To The Irish
Four different ethnicities lined up behind the mobile starting gate in Monticello Raceways Heritage Racing Series final on June 17.
Fighting for the bragging rights were a pair of Italian-Americans, two Canadians, a pair of German-Americans and two drivers of Irish heritage. But when the official sign was hung, the Irish had all the money.
It took a strong stretch rally from the 8-year-old Camluck mare, Trenergy, and Irish-American teamster Greg Decker, Jr. to get up in the final strides to defeat race favorite Hill View Jenna and Italian-American driver Johnny DeSimone in 2:01. Sent off at odds of nearly 7-1, Trenergy rewarded her backers with a $15.40 win mutuel.
Third place went to Blue Rock Keena, handled by Canadian-born Stephane Bouchard.
The victory was the sixth of the season for Trenergy, who now has been victorious in five of her last eight starts. One of those triumphs was in the Irish-American leg in the series, the St. Paddy Pace on May 27, which earned driver Decker a spot in the finale.
Oddly, Trenergy, who carried the staff for the Irish in this event, is owned by a pair of Italian-Americans, Eddie and Vinny Madaffari of nearby Mongaup Valley.
The competing drivers earned a berth in the final event dubbed the United Nations Pace by finishing either first or second in the four-week series for drivers of different ethnic backgrounds.
Other reinsmen competing included Jimmy Clouser (Irish), Yves Corbin (Canadian), and Jimmy DeVaux (German). Mario Marcellino, who was the third place finisher in the Italian-American leg, subbed for that events race winner, Kyle DiBenedetto, who is currently on a short suspension for a minor driving infraction last week.
Mike Merton, the winning driver of Red Baron Pace for German-Americans, lost his mount in the finale due to a late scratch.
Hosking III, Hayes Win
On Sunday afternoon, June 16, eleven bartenders traded their swizzlesticks for a seat behind a pacer and competed in two non-wagering races in Monticello Raceways 10th Annual Bartenders Derby. They each brought along their own cheering sections from the establishments where they tend bar.
The first division, which went to post after the first race on the betting card, was the most competitive as three pacers hit the finish line with only heads separating them. A photo was needed for the actual placings but when the judges put forth their decision, Dave Hosking, III from the C & C Pub in nearby Otisville got his pacer, Melon Ball, up in the final strides to overtake Margarita, driven by Steve Eisenberg from the Sporting Club in New York City. Using the passing lane and moving fastest of all in the stretch was Victor Harrison with Vodka Martini, but he ran out of race track and finished third just a neck behind the winner. Harrison, up from Delaware, represented the lounges at Dover Downs.
What made Hoskings victory most impressive was that Eisenberg parked him out the entire mile and his pacer still had enough in the tank to win the race in the deep stretch. The time of 2:08 was very creditable considering that the drivers were performing in jog carts without the use of whips.
But as not to be outdone, the second division, which went after the second betting race, was just as competitive as the first division and a photo was needed to separate the first two finishers. The picture showed that Melanie Hayes from the Perfecta Bar in Monticello won the decision over John Corke from the Starlight Marina, also in Monticello. Hayes drove a pacer nicknamed Chardonnay while Corke handled the lines behind Cosmopolitan. And the final time of 2:07:4 was even faster than the first bartenders race.
Of course, only the winners were really thrilled, but after the competition many of the participants were spotted enjoying a cold one at one of the raceways concession stands. And some were overheard telling stories of how they could have won if . . .