Monticello, NY --- Talk about a wide-open race. Just look at Monticello Raceway’s 13th annual St. Paddy Pace, slated as the eighth race on Wednesday afternoon (March 13).
“There’s no doubt that the horses in our St. Paddy Pace aren’t top stock, but any way you size it up it figures to be very competitive because any one of the eight starters can be a winner,” noted Eric Warner, the track’s director of racing.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the betting favorite goes off at odds of 3-1 or even 7-2,” added race announcer Howard Oil. “It’s true the field isn’t high class but it is what every bettor likes; (that being) a field so evenly matched that any horse can win it.”
For the first time in the event’s history two real honest-to-goodness Irishmen will be competing. “Irish” Joe Hanney will handle Tidewater Moses (8-1) from the pylon position while his friend and fellow countryman, Anthony Haughan, has drawn Quiet Hero (5-2) and post position seven.
Both gentlemen left together from their native Dublin, Ireland, and traveled to North America to pursue a career in harness racing. Initially they settled in Canada but in recent years Hanney moved to the States and has put together a public stable while Haughan stayed north of the border where he has produced some impressive stats over the past few years.
Both Irishmen will be up against some former St. Paddy Pace winners in Jimmy Taggart, Jr. (2012); Jimmy Marohn, Jr. (2009 and 2011); John McDermott (2005); and Mike Doherty (2001).
Taggart will handle Song Of The South (7-2) from post two; Marohn has Best Of Times (9-2) from post six; McDermott will drive Syncro’s Z Tam (10-1) and start from the five hole; while Doherty has Sempre Ribera (12-1) and will leave from post three.
Joining the aforementioned will be Cory Stratton with Eusebio (3-1) from the eight hole and Rick Harp with Greystone Matt (4-1) from post position four.
“Don’t be afraid of the morning line odds,” added Howard Oil. “The horse that you think will get the best trip will probably be the winner. And that can be any one of the starters.”
Even though it’s certainly an oddity to have two “real” Irishmen competing in this year’s race, so was John Gilmour’s victory in the 2002 St. Paddy Pace when he won with a pacer by the name of Irish Lad!
This year the St. Paddy Pace is sponsored by Mary and Peter Grandich, who own horses in “Irish” Joe Hanney’s public stable. They will be on hand to make the trophy and blanket presentation to the winner of the race.
The St. Paddy Pace is presented this year on March 13 because St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, is a Sunday and the Mighty M is dark on the weekends.
The St. Paddy Pace, the second leg of this year’s Heritage Drivers Series, will be the eighth race on the 11-race Wednesday card with an approximate post time at 2:55 p.m.