Last December Monticello Raceway’s leading driver, Bruce Aldrich, Jr. locked horns with Northfield Park’s top gun, Ronnie Wrenn, in a ‘drive-off’ here where both men drove in every trace on the card and at days end Aldrich, the home-towner, reined six winners while Wrenn, the visitor, had four.
And when the curtain came down on the 2013 national racing season both gentlemen finished one-two in driving victories in North America, Wrenn with 714 and Aldrich with 645.
It was just a few years ago when a youngster by the name of Jordan Stratton displayed an innate talent for driving harness horses at a very tender age and Monticello Raceway fans watched the emergence of “the Kid”, who became the youngest driver to win a Mighty M driving title. He has moved on and now competes, and very successfully, against the best drivers at Yonkers Raceway.
After the best year of his career where his 645 driving victories were tied for second best in North America, Bruce Aldrich, Jr. continues to be a force in the sulky.
At Monticello Raceway on Wednesday (Feb.26) he reined four winners on the 10- race card to bring his track leading amount to 55 during the winter season here which has seen many race dates cancelled due to inclement weather.
Beginning Friday, March 1 and continuing with just one exception through October 31 all post times at Monticello Raceway will be at 12:50 pm. The exception occurs on Thursday night July 4 when post time will be at 5:30pm to allow for the annual fireworks extravaganza after the races.
After the special Friday, Marc h 1st card live racing during the month will continue four times weekly on the afternoons of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
It seems like the local scribes can spot talent. In recent years they cited Jordon Stratton and Jimmy Marohn, Jr. as Rising Stars for their driving prowess at Monticello Raceway. And just check their records. Both youngsters are now winning plenty of races and are developing into the future stars in harness racing.
Last year, too, the area’s harness writers chose 21 year old Austin Siegelman as their Rising Star at the Mighty M. And it appears that the scribes are on the money again.
On Presidents Day, with well over two feet of fresh snow on the ground, much of it piled along the inside and outside of the racetrack, Monticello Raceway was still able to present its “Not Quite Presidential” Pace despite the fact that three horses were late scratches.
Monticello Casino & Raceway (“MC&R”) continues to support the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act (“Gaming Act”). When they authored the Gaming Act, the Senate, Assembly and the Executive protected the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association (“MHHA”), and the entire racing industry. As New York State moves toward approving four casinos in upstate New York, future revenue for the horsemen is governed by the Gaming Act, and current revenue is governed by the New York State Lottery for Education Law.
It is, as Yogi Berra once said, ‘de je vu all over again’ especially at Monticello Raceway where the quest for top training honors continues.
Last year’s stalwarts, Bob Lounsbury and Danny Gill, are again on top of the leaderboard in a continuation of the friendly battle that ensued during the 2013 campaign. The modern-era trainers, who leave the driving to the professionals, are back at it again and currently Lounsbury’s 18 winners are showing the way with Gill’s 14 in hot pursuit.
In early January Monticello Raceway lost a few race cards due to inclement weather and non-racing dates were added to the winter schedule.
One non-race date that was added is Monday, February 17 and as usual it will be an afternoon card with a 12:25pm post time. The featured race on that Presidents Day afternoon program will be the “Not-Quite” Presidential Pace, a race for drivers whose names are the same as any of the former United States Presidents.