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Young turks shine on Wednesday race card at Monticello
Thursday, December 08, 2011 - by John Manzi, publicity director, Monticello Raceway

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Monticello, NY --- After its inception in the late 1950s Monticello Raceway became somewhat of a proving grounds for up and coming driving talent. For those driving here during the early years it was almost like competing at the Triple A level and the ones who possessed the most ability would eventually go on to the big time, which, in those years, was Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways.

Hall of Famer Carmine Abbatiello won his first driving title at the Mighty M back in the early 1960s and Hall of Famer Cat Manzi started in the late 1960s. So, too, did Lucien “Loosh” Fontaine, who could drive a horse with the best of them.

Truman Gale hustled 25-1 shot My Irish Molly to a 2:04.2 victory.

Over the years the Popfinger brothers, Billy and Frank, Real “Coco” Cormier and Eddie Lohmeyer vaulted into prominence after leaving the Mighty M. And Luc Ouellette made his bones here before moving on as did Patrick Lachance. Even Walter Case, Jr., who spent just one award filled season here in 1983, went on to record breaking heights. And George Brennan began his illustrious career here, too.

A scant few years ago Jordan Stratton, barely 21 years of age, dominated the leaderboards at Monticello Raceway and in 2008 on the strength of 362 victories he became the youngest reinsman to ever win a driving title here at the Mighty M.

Most recently, on Dec. 7, two young turks, Truman Gale (22) and Mickey Holliday (18), showed the railbirds that they know their way around the racetrack, too.

It’s true that Gale and Holliday aren’t household names in the industry, but each seems to have what it takes to be successful. On the Wednesday card Gale had two wins in three drives while Holliday had a win and two seconds in five starts.

Gale, from Helena, N.Y., won both ends of the early daily double when he copped the first race with Breezy’s Best in a time of 2:01.2 and then won the second race trot behind 25-1 shot My Irish Molly in 2:04.2.

Geri Schwarz photos
Mickey Holliday used the front-end route to score in 2:02.1 with M G Energik.

Gale, who usually competes in upstate New York at Vernon Downs and on the New York county fair circuit, has reined 40 winners this year.

Holliday, from Cowlesville, N.Y., who just became 18 years of age this past Sept. 3, carries a provisional license and didn’t drive in pari-mutuel races in western New York until that date, but still has nine wins to his credit from a minimum amount of starts.

Holliday chased Gale home in the second race while finishing second and had another second place finish in the ninth race before he reached the winner's circle behind M G Energik in 2:02.1 in the 11th race.

It remains to be seen whether Gale or Holliday approach the heights of the aforementioned Monticello Raceway alumni, but these young turks already show great promise.

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