TONY VERRUSO WINS BILLINGS TROT ; MONICA BANCA COPS CATSKILL CLUB PACE


By John Manzi for the Billings Series and the Catskill Amateur Club’s race

Score one for the president... the Billings president, that is. At Monticello Raceway on the ides of June Billings Series president, Tony “the Capo” Verruso. took no prisoners  en route to a  gate to wire 2:00.2 victory with Flirting Duezy in an east region Billings trot.

When the starter said ‘go’ Verruso hustled the 8-year-old Victory Sam mare to the lead and kept moving to allow the trailing horses to find a spot along the pylons. After leading the field by the first quarter in:29:2 Verruso let his mare have her head and she trotted the next quarter in 31 seconds which kept anyone from moving out to challenge her lead. They had two lengths on the field as Flirting Duezy trotted by the third stanza in 1:30.2 and when the  field headed for home  she was still the strong horse and rebuffed a late charge by The Franchise and driver Bob “the Headhunter” Hechkoff. She’s All Muscles finished third for “Buffalo Bob” Davis.

“Knowing that my mare is quick off the gate I sent her to the front and tried to get the trailing horses in line behind us. And it worked out just like I planned. She’s game on the lead. Back in mid-May, while on the engine, she won handily in 1:58.3”, Verruso said after race.

Owned by Betsy Phillips and Carl Gillespie and trained by Gillespie, Flirting Duezy was dismissed by the betting public and paid $22.60 for win. For the current Billings president it was his 67th career driving victory.

Also on the June 15th card, another talented female driver,  Monica Banca, bided her time  and then rallied Fox Valley Leo to a 1:58.3 victory in the Catskill Amateur Club Pace.

“I had a good trip,” Banca said when she returned to the paddock after her victory.

She gunned her pacer to the lead from the five-hole and then allowed Joe Lee and TKR’S Metro Specs to take command before the first quarter timer flashed :28.3. With Lee’s pacer showing the way and Banca’s pacer snug in the two hole ,they raced one-two until the final strides in the deep stretch when Fox Valley Leo rallied down the passing lane to a head triumph over TKR’s Metro Specs. Kennanskingwilliam was third for Jerry Fielding.

“I was glad to let Joe’s horse take the lead and sit behind him,” Banca added. “And I think because I had  cover my horse was the strongest at the end of the mile.”

Fox Valley Leo is owned and trained by Rick Dane. The 7-year-old Yankee Skyscraper gelding paid $12.60 for win. And for the Norwegian-born Banca it was her third driving victory in just four seasonal starts