With the temperature hovering around 91 degrees and the race track lightning fast New York-bred freshmen trotting fillies were front and center at Monticello Raceway with five divisions of the $148,000 NYSS and three $12,800 splits in the Excelsior Series.
Right out of the box in the very first $28,362 NYSS split a new track record was established by Lady Riviera when Ron Piercee guided her to a 1:59.2 triumph. The homebred daughter of Sand Vic- La Riviera Lindy knocked one full second of the former mark of 2:00.2 set by Jezzy in 2010.
On Wednesday afternoon, July 18 eight divisions of New York-bred freshman trotting fillies will go to post with five $28,362 splits in the NYSS and another three in the Excelsior Series with each of those legs going for $12,800 purses.
The races that day will mark the second stop along the journey where the top eight point earners during the season will have the right to compete in the $175,000 final in late September
Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings would have been proud. Leland Stanford would also have joined the throngs. Both turn of the twentieth century millionaires who owned outstanding horses during their era, were also avid amateur drivers and would have cheered the success of Monticello Raceway’s All Amateur Day on Friday, July 13.
Last year Monticello Raceway pioneered a day where all races were driven by amateur drivers. Dubbed All- Amateur Day the afternoon race card was well received .This year a second All Amateur Day will be presented on the added Friday program of July 13th and again all races will be driven by amateur drivers.
“We weren’t slated to race on that Friday but we added the date so we could be part of the Back to the Track national harness racing promotional weekend,” noted raceway GM Shawn Wiles.”
In the past Monticello Raceway has had full wagering cards featuring only trotters; full cards of only pacers and a full program amateur races, but not until July 4th did the Mighty M have a complete race card featuring just 2 year-old colt and gelding pacers; and most of which were making their pari-mutuel debuts.
On Wednesday evening July 4th Monticello Raceway will host the first seasonal divisions of freshmen pacing colts and geldings in both the New York Sire Stakes and the new Excelsior Series (formerly late closers).
The NYSS colts will be vying for points which they will gain along the way competing at various racetracks in NY State . The top eight, when the divisions are completed, will earn a berth in the $175,000 New York Sire Stakes Final at Yonkers Raceway on September 22.
For the past 43 years Monticello Raceway has offered local fans the best Fireworks Show in Sullivan County(NY) and this year will be no exception. On Wednesday, July 4th the Raceway will stage its 44th Annual Fireworks Extravaganza after the races. But that night the first post will be at 5:30p.m. “The fireworks will be presented approximately 20 minutes after the racing program ends on July 4th,” said Shawn Wiles, the Raceway’s Assistant General Manager.
For the most part Mike and Greg Merton grew up on the backstretch of Monticello Raceway. After all, their dad, Bob Merton, Sr. was a longtime trainer-driver and during their Monticello High School seasons their school bus driver would drop them off at the stable gate so they could go to their dad’s barn.
There they received good formative training and both boys grew into hard working and accomplished horsemen and talented harness drivers. Their records speak for themselves.
Last year Lisa Krom lost her helmet as the mobile gate sped away at the start but that loss was the only one Lisa endued that afternoon as her pacer Allikait Fighter went on to win the Monticello Raceway’s Lady Godiva Pace on a cold February morning.