By John Manzi
MONTICELLO June 13, 2003 It wont be long before some the harness greats of yesteryear gather at Monticello Raceway for a driving championship thats dubbed The Battle of the New York Legends.
Included on that agenda is an autograph session where racing fans can meet and greet the legends. Also part of the afternoon festivities will be Romans Harness Racing Trivia contest, where fans can win instant cash by correctly answering the question.
Sponsored by Monticello Raceways patron saint, Larry Roman, the battle is not only a unique event but one that will undoubtedly be duplicated many times at other racetracks in future years.
On Sunday afternoon, June 22 at The Mighty M, 11 of the greatest horsemen to ever grace the Standardbred sport will be on hand to renew old acquaintances, don their colors and display the talent that brought them to the forefront of the industry while competing on the old Roosevelt Raceway-Yonkers Raceway circuit in the days prior to the inception of the Meadowlands.
Among those wholl be featured are three Hall of Famers: Carmine The Red Man Abbatiello, William Buddy Gilmour and Del Insko. Joining them will be Benny The Whip Webster, Steady Eddie Lohmeyer, Frank Popfinger, Merritt Butch Dokey, Ben Steall, Real Coco Cormier, Showbiz Bill Popfinger and Kenny McNutt.
Collectively they can account for over 34,000 driving victories and purses in excess of $225 million, which are incredible totals considering the majority of each came from an era of shorter race seasons and smaller purses.
Among the growing list of industry stars wholl also be on hand that afternoon include: Bob Hollywood Hayden, Sam McKee, Ken Warkentin, Larry Lederman, Frank Drucker, Joe Faraldo and Jay Bergman.
Were still trying to get the great New York race track announcers, Bullet Bob Meyer and Jack E. Lee, to join us that day, Roman said. Their voices will add to the nostalgia of the entire event.
Along with all the celebrities, the raceway will be rolling back prices at the concession stands.
On June 1, the weather caused us to cancel the Bartenders Derby. We have rescheduled the event for Sunday, June 29. This Sunday, June 15 well draw the final 50 names to be owners of the Peoples Pacer. Last week we drew the first 50 names and when were finished, 100 lucky racing fans will become mythical owners of a horse yet to be named wholl be known as the Peoples Pacer. If all 100 follow the rules of the promotion, theyll share equally in the purse money the horse wins over the period of June 29 through August 31.
We are in the process of taking contestants for Larry Romans Ms. Monticello Raceway Beauty Pageant, which is slated for Sunday, July 27. Anticipating that well receive plenty of entries, we are holding the date of Sunday, July 20 to be used for a preliminary contest where we can whittle the field for the finale.
However, the possibility remains that well have more than 40 applicants. If that happens, we will have a panel of judges review the photographs of the contestants and select, in their opinion, those most apt to have a chance at winning the title and the money.
Applicants must be at least 16 years of age and there is no cost to enter. For further information on the pageant, please call 794-4100, ext. 455.