Monticello, NY --- Thus far Monticello Raceway’s Name Your Price Claiming Series hasn’t lived up to its unique possibility, that being the initially entered $4,000 claimers all raced for that same claiming tag in round two. All had the option of adding another $1,000 to the horse's claiming price, permitted in the second round by the series rules, but no one took advantage of that possibility in the three preliminary series legs contested on the foggy afternoon of Monday (Feb. 11) at the Mighty M.
Of the three winners in the first round only one, Tracy’s Song, was victorious in round two, despite having to start on the far outside from post seven. First round winner Pot Limit finished fourth in her division on Feb. 11 and first round winner Romi Mystic also was fourth in her split in round two.
|Geri Schwarz photo|
|Repeat winner Tracy’s Song notched her fourth consecutive victory.|
Thus far Tracy’s Song is the early favorite in the series finale to be raced on Monday (Feb. 25) after the third preliminaries are contested on Feb. 18. Still, Tracy’s Song makes a good argument for her being the mare to beat in the series since the 8-year-old daughter of Astreos has now strung together four consecutive victories.
Owned by Nancy Fugere of Westbrookville, N.Y., Tracy's Song ($4.70) was driven to a 1:59 victory for trainer Bob Lounsbury who entrusted the driving services to Bruce Aldrich, Jr.
In that contest Aldrich gunned the mare to the front, making the top by the quarter pole and then got first call at every stanza en route to a one length triumph over Fortunes Smile, driven by Kyle DiBenedetto. In spite of the muddy track, Tracy’s Song’s 1:59 victory is currently her season's best.
Last week the Danny Gill-trained Romi Mystic was victorious and Gill showed up again when his pupil Nutmegs Desire ($5.30) held on for a head triumph for Jimmy Marohn, Jr., holding off Sixth Sense and driver Mike Forte. Irving Bork owns the 5-year-old Real Desire mare who scored her first seasonal victory.
After finishing second last week in the series, Winsmith Molly ($7.70) and driver Jimmy Taggart, Jr. made every pole a winning one as the 6-year-old Badlands Hanover mare scored a one length triumph over Pembroke Boogie (Alan Schwartz) in a 1:58.4 clocking. Trained by Gary Messenger, the mare is owned by Dr. Scott Woogen, Brenda Messenger and Phil Shapiro.
The final preliminary leg will be presented on Monday afternoon (Feb. 18).
Napolitano wins four
The vocal group the Eagles enjoyed a big hit with their “New Kid in Town” and racing fans at Monticello are enjoying a ‘new kid in town’ this winter in the presence of Anthony Napolitano.
But unfortunately the pleasure will be short-lived because the Nescopeck, Pa., resident is just spending the winter season at the Mighty M and regrettably for the locals here he’ll be heading back to his home track of Pocono Downs when they get their season underway in March.
Moreover, calling the 31-year-old Napolitano a kid is by no means meant as a slight to the talented reinsman who has already piloted 1,565 winners.
With just 58 Monticello Raceway starts this winter he has produced 16 winners, 10 seconds and four thirds and has a hefty .395 UDR. And with each passing race card the local trainers realize Napolitano’s driving prowess as he is getting more work.
On Monday, Napolitano reined four winners on the card, his best output of the season here.
His day started with a 1:59.4 triumph with Vinnie Grippa’s Litigator in race two and he followed that with another victory for owner Grippa when he guided Sam’s Shuffle ($29.20) to a surprising come-from-behind 1:58 victory over the 1-2 favorite Forever Libby. Both of the Grippa-owned pacers are trained by Anthony Regina.
Napolitano then had back-to-back wins in races 10 and 11. He scored in the 10th with John Campagnuolo and Ronald Baia's trotter Gus Is All ($22.20) in 2:00.4 and then won the 11th with Philip Schultz’s pacer JMdancingshannon (2:00.3). Dennis Laterza is the trainer of Gus Is All while Bob Lounsbury is the conditioner of JMdancingshannon.