By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO July 26, 2002 The Monticello Raceway is more than just horses.
On Sunday, the Mighty M presented the preliminary round of the 2002 Ms. Monticello Race Beauty Pageant truly a beautiful sight to behold for hundreds of spectators including a few track regulars who took time to look up from their harness racing programs as drivers circled the track in back of the raceway stage.
A total of 72 young women from as near as Monticello and as far away as Poland (by way of Bloomingburg) started off the preliminaries by parading in their swimsuits before a panel of judges.
The judges included Eric Cruise, a harness horse trainer at Monticello Raceway and former pro soccer player; Cliff Ehrlich, president and treasurer of the local track; Kerry English, CEO of Dana Distributors and member of the board of directors at Goshens Historic Track; Ken Walters, associate editor at Sports Eye; and Jana Worden, the reigning Ms. Monticello Raceway.
The pageant began at 12:30 p.m. and concluded after the 11th race of the day when the 16 finalists were named. The contestants were first judged in swimsuits and then in glittering evening gowns.
The pretty ladies came from near and far to participate, said John Manzi, publicity director at Monticello Raceway.
Christina Marchand came all the way from Attleboro, Mass.; Jennifer Burns from New Egypt, N.J.; and Heather Lowe from Glen Cove.
But the majority of lovelies were from the surrounding areas, Manzi added.
The other preliminary contest winners included: Marisol Fortea of Monticello; Helene Robinson of Mountaindale; Joann Mason-Parker of Ellenville; Alexis Mariski of Bethel; Megan Bloom of Westbrookville; Joanna Wrona of Poland who is working at a local summer camp in Bloomingburg; Carine Balestie of Bloomingburg; Angela Capalbo of Westtown; Krystal Abrams of Warwick; Jessica Smith of Pine Bush; and Goshens Tracey Bagwell.
Two contestants came from the other side of the river in Pennsylvania: Anna Cordaro of Honesdale and Lila Sampson from Pleasant Mount.
The pageant hopefuls were divided into four groups. As they gathered by the trackside fence by the stage, the young women posed for pictures by husbands, boyfriends, family members and the occasional wandering shutter.
Contestant #43, Rita Shock of Kingston, is a horse trainer at the local raceway. As the tall blonde appeared on stage in a revealing outfit, she gave the track regulars and a few lounging drivers a real shock.
Marisol Fortea was one of the lucky ones selected as a finalist from the field of 72. Her eyes sparkled on the stage in front of the audience as she was briefly interviewed by Manzi, master of the Mighty Ms PR.
It was a chance to take in the action at the raceway for some. While waiting for his sister Megan Bloom of Westbrookville to take her turn before the judges, 11-year old Chris Bloom took a break from the action on stage to lean on the fence, watching the racing action.
And Miss Monticello Raceway 1994 Debra Cabresia of Grahamsville struck a couple of poses in the crowd with her friend Maggie Cucuel of Westchester. Cabreria was all decked out in her winners sash from 94.
On Sunday, July 28, the16 finalists will vie for the title of Ms. Monticello Raceway 2002 in the beauty pageant final. It is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m.
The eventual winner will receive $7,500, with $2,500 going to the first runner-up and $1,000 to the second runner-up contestant.
More than 40 little girls, ages 3 to 8, are all set to compete in the Little Miss Monticello Raceway Contest, also slated for this Sunday afternoon at the raceway. The winner receives $1,000, first runner-up will get $500 with $250 going to the second runner-up.
For information about the 2002 Ms. Monticello Raceway Beauty Pageant, call 794-4100.