Monticello, NY --- Now the Italian-Americans have someone to cheer for in Monticello Raceway’s Heritage Drivers Series finale after Rock Vinci drove Southwind Maize to an easy 2:00 triumph in this year’s Godfather Pace on Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 29).
The race, which featured drivers of Italian extraction, was the seventh leg of the year-long series and now Vinci will join the winners of the previous preliminary legs in the series final, dubbed the All-America Cup, in early December.
|Geri Schwarz photo|
|Rock Vinci waves his whip after winning the Godfather Pace with Southwind Maize by 12 lengths.|
Sent off as the betting favorite from the pole position, Southwind Maize bobbled before the start but Vinci got him back to his rhythm and the pacer took command on the first turn.
As they headed toward the quarter pole Vinci grabbed leather and allowed Dave Russo and Big Game to control the front end as the timer flashed :28.4. From there Russo’s pacer led the way past the half in :59.2 and as the field straightened on the backside, Vinci moved Southwind Maize out from the two hole and they paced right on by the leader and opened up daylight on the rest of the field.
On the final turn only the margin of victory was in doubt. In the deep stretch Vinci hot-dogged it a bit, waving his whip in the air as Southwind Maize drew off to a 12 length victory over Russo and his 25-1 shot Big Game. Third place went to Tidewater Moses driven by Johnny Desimone, Jr.
Vinci was joined in the winner’s circle by the horse’s owner, Elwood Funk, Jr., who was happy with his horse’s performance.
“Yeah, he looked like a world beater in against these today and I was certainly amazed by his margin of victory but I wish he’d be more consistent,” Funk said of his pacer. “Lately he rarely puts two good races together.”
“He’s a lot better horse than he has been lately,” Vinci said referring to Southwind Maize. “He’s a big, good looking, well-bred (altered) son of Western Ideal and he won this year at Freehold in (1:)56 and a piece (1:56.1), but he’s a cheater. He can go more but there are times he just refuses to (give his best).”
It was the fourth seasonal victory for Southwind Maize, who went off as the odds-on favorite and paid $3.50 for win.
Strangely, after his driving victory Rock Vinci received the trophy, which was presented by Mike Vinci (no relation), Monticello Casino & Raceway’s director of finance.
The final Heritage Drivers Series preliminary leg -- the Maple Leaf Mile for drivers of Canadian descent -- will be raced in mid-November. Then the winning drivers of each of the eight ethnic legs will battle in the series finale, the All-America Cup, in early December.