By John Manzi
MONTICELLO January 7, 2005 It will be a long time before there is a better match race than Monticello Raceways Clash of the Senior Titans.
With the sun shining brightly and the temperature hovering around 50 degrees on Thursday, December 30, Christopher Berke and Leah Schifanos The Suleiman N defeated Lon Frociones Troy D but just barely. It took a photo to separate the two old warriors and when the judges declared the race official The New Zealand import had bested the American-bred pacer by just a nose in a time of 2:02.4.
Sent off at odds of 1-4, The Suleiman N paid $2.50 for win.
Billy Zeke Parker Jr. drove The Suleiman N, a lifetime winner of $412,000, and Todd Frocione was in the sulky behind Troy D, who has career winnings of $371,000.
Troy D started from the pylon position but The Suleiman N, from the two-hole, gained command before the first turn. Once in front, Parker let The Suleiman N ramble and Frocione and Troy D were content to let Parker cut the fractions.
The Suleiman passed the quarter pole in :30:1 and was a length on top at the half-mile marker in 1:01.3. When Parker passed the three quarters in 1:32.4, he began to tap his charge and The Suleiman N drew off by three lengths in the final turn. They still had a three-length cushion as they straightened away for the stretch drive and Parker braced for the late charge from Troy D.
And that late charge came from Frocione and Troy D.
Frocione got his pacer in high gear at the top of the stretch and was gaining with every stride as the two old warriors approached the finish line. Parker was all-out urging The Suleiman as Troy D rallied. But the wire came up too fast for Frocione and Troy D as Troy D was a long nose short at the finish. Had they gone another 20 feet, the results would have been reversed.
This was his [The Suleiman Ns] 36th start this year and lately hes been trailing off a bit at the end of the mile, so I figured I better get some real estate in the last turn because I knew Frociones horse is a good closer and hed be coming, Parker told the reporters in the winners circle after their victory. And its a good thing I did, or wed a been beat.
The two old warriors both came to the winners circle for the trophy presentations and were joined by their connections. Everyone was happy, even the group that finished second.
Both old warriors will now enjoy a life of leisure. Frocione has found a fine home for Troy D and Berke will keep The Suleiman N on his farm and let the old guy relax for as long as he may live.