By John Manzi
SULLIVAN COUNTY August 23, 2002 When Monticello Raceway presents Larry Romans Battle of the Broadcasters on Sunday afternoon September 8, some of North Americas greatest harness racing announcers will be participating.
Currently 10 race callers have entered the event headed by Hall of Famer Roger Huston from the Meadows. Other participants include Sam McKee and Ken Warkentin, the voices of the Meadowlands, and Frank Salive from Canadas biggest racetracks, Woodbine and Mohawk Raceways.
Theyll be joined by John Hernan from Yonkers Raceway; Bill Ellis from Bangor Raceway; Scott Ehrlich from Balmoral and Maywood Park; Lenny Calderone from Plainridge Racecourse; Monticello Raceways own Howard Oil and the latest edition, Rick Rier, from Hanover Raceway in Ontario.
But being in Harness Racings Hall of Fame and announcing races at the sports biggest venues is no pre-requisite to winning the Battle of the Broadcasters. Like most races itll all boil down to who has the best horse and knowing how to handle what they have.
This is truly going to be an international affair with announcers from both the United States and Canada, said sportsman and prominent owner Roman, who has agreed to sponsor the Battle. We will have two races and a race-off between the two winners, so only one gentleman can claim the title as the best driving announcer.
Brian de Jong, the voice of Scioto Downs, will be on hand to call a few races and join Roman in making the presentations to the winners.
The actual calling of the Battles will be done by New York Daily News sportswriter Dave Little, a talented part-time race-caller in his own right who often subs when Howard Oil vacations.
For safetys sake, the non-wagering announcers races will be contested in jog carts without the use of whips.
Fans will get an extra treat on September 8 as many, if not all, of the participants will get behind the Mighty M microphone to call a race on the betting card.
DiBenedettos Stable Latest Winner of Beautification Award
In a effort to beautify its backstretch, Monticello Raceway recently began an in-house contest rewarding trainers whose barn has the best over- all appearance.
The project was initiated in July when Monticello Raceway decided to dole out a bi-weekly cash award to trainers who have the cleanest and best-looking stable on the grounds.
The first recipient of the award paid on July 15 was the Joe Romano Stable. Then on August 1, the stable of Jimmy Devaux was rewarded for its overall appearance.
Now the Kyle DiBenedetto Stable is the latest winner.
We decided the best way to help beautify our backstretch was to offer money for cleanliness and it seems to be working, said Mighty M General Manager Shawn Wiles. Its been going on for about seven weeks but already theres a noticeable difference.
The judging for what the track calls its Stable of the Month Award is headed by Security Director Hector Vazquez. According to Vazquez, he inspects the various stables on the grounds looking for cleanliness, a neat tack room and stalls that are well kept.
What it really boils down to is just a good overall appearance, Vazquez explained.
Any stable, no matter what size, is eligible to receive the cash award. Romanos Stable numbers seven, while Devaux is in charge of 11 horses. DiBenedetto, the latest recipient, has 10 horses under his care.