Arguably the biggest fan favorite of Monticello Raceway’s Heritage Drivers Series ethnic races is “the Race for the Matzos” better known as the Passover Pace, which features the talents of drivers of Jewish heritage.
Besides the usual array of media coverage the race garners, over years it has also received exposure in various Jewish tabloids like the Jewish Week and the Jewish Times, to name a few.
The 15th edition of the Passover Pace will go to post on Monday, April 1 with eight drivers all raring to go at it again, especially Alan Charles. Not only is Charles the defending champion but he has won the Race For The Matzos two times in the last three years.
“It’ll be extra tough to win it again this year because I have one of the longest shots on the morning line,” said Charles, who’ll be handling 8-1 rated Fulla Love from post position seven. “But I’ve won the Passover Pace with outsiders before.”
Just last year when the race was a trot instead of a pace Charles won the event with Digital Photo who paid $24.60 for win. And when Charles won the 2010 Passover Pace with Cody Little Gal the win payoff was $16.80.
According to track odds-maker, John Flynn, Isn’t She Lovely, from the pole position, rates as the 5-2 early favorite. Last year’s National Amateur Driver of the Year and 2010 Passover Pace winner, Bobby Krivelin, will handle the mare who had 10 wins last season but has yet to reach the winners circle this year.
“Not one of these pacers in this Passover Pace has won a race this year,” Krivelin said. “I’m not sure if that is a good or bad thing, either.“They’re all equal in that way and maybe it’ll make for a more competitive race. I’m just glad I’ll be starting from the pole.”
Three-time Passover Pace winner Alan Schwartz can’t be dismissed when he jumps up behind Shezaflamintower .
“Don’t count me out as long as the race track is dry,” he said. “I’ve been told my horse doesn’t like to race in the mud.” She made a break last week on a muddy track, however, she was a close second the time before when the track was dry.”
And Bob Hechkoff’s mount, May Night, who was charging home last week and finished a close second in a time of 2:01 and will have to be reckoned with when she leaves from the two-hole on Monday.
Nevertheless , the best assessment of his chances by one of the drivers in the race was spewed by Derick Giwner, who doubles as Daily Racing Form Harness Managing Editor.
After Giwner found out he drew the eight hole with NF Wind Chimes, who hasn’t made the board in her last seven starts and is graciously rated at odds of 12-1, he jokingly said “I’ll bring my camera and take pictures of the other horses during the race. I should have a good view.”
However, two years ago Giwner finished second with a decided outsider, Ms Denise, and paid $12.80 for place.
Like post positions the driving assignments were also drawn by lot.
The field for the 15th annual Passover Pace, with post positions, early odds and driver assignments , lines up as follows:
#1-Isn’t She Lovely (Bobby Krivelin-5-2); #2- May Night (Bob Hechkoff-7-2); #3- Mary Lou (Peter Kleinhans-4-1); #4-Bullville Monarch (Dave Yarock-9-2); #5-Miss Mathews (Murray Bassin-10-1); #6 –Shezaflamintower (Alan Schwartz-3-1); #7-Fulla Love (Alan Charles-8-1); and #-8- NF Wind Chimes (Derick Giwner-12-1).
The Passover Pace will be the fourth race on Monday afternoon card of April Fool’s day. Post time for the 12-race card will be at 12:50pm.