Monticello, NY --- Harness racing fans know that Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. and Bruce Aldrich, Jr. are top drivers. After all, their records speak for them as Wrenn’s 658 driving victories are tops in North America while Aldrich’s 588 winners ranks him third in races won on the continent. But are they good handicappers?
A special provision in this head-to-head competition to be held at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (Dec. 12) is that each driver had the right to select his own mounts; Wrenn in the odd-numbered races and Aldrich in the even. And when they didn’t have first pick they got their second choice.
Prior to their selections someone said that they’ll pick all the favorites, which is probably so. However, their selections were made prior to the morning line being posted. Still, here at the Mighty M, favorites only win 38 percent of the time.
Although Wrenn is currently the top driver at Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio and races mainly in the Midwest, he has never been to Monticello which may put him at a slight disadvantage when choosing his drives.
“I know of Lounsbury and Gill, the top trainers at Monticello, but there are other trainers who do well with a limited amount of horses. I’ll first look at post position and then the horses that look the best in the class before I make my decisions,” Wrenn told sportswriter Debbie Little who wrote an advance about the competition in the New York Post.
Aldrich, on the other hand, knows the trainers and the horses at the Mighty M but still feels that is not a great advantage.
“I never did anything like this,” Aldrich said, referring to choosing his own drives. “I stayed with the horses I have been driving but I’m not sure that they’ll be better than the ones Ronnie picks. It ought to be a lot of fun and I hope to win my share.”
Wrenn, 27, comes from a harness racing family. His dad Ron is closing in on 2,000 career victories and his Uncle Peter has more than 9,100 wins. With this, just his fourth full year in the sulky, Ronnie already has 1,250 driving victories and in years to come count on that number to be vastly inflated as he is one of the industry’s rising stars.
Although Aldrich, 42, is a veteran with nearly 4,700 driving victories he was a late starter and the majority of the victories have come in the 21st Century. A four-time Monticello Raceway driving champ, Bruce will win his fifth championship this year but he has loftier goals.
“I’d like to get 600 wins for the year and with three weeks and 12 to go I have a decent chance,” Aldrich said. “And if I could finish third in North America that would be a bonus.”