Monticello, NY --- Last week in his first start here, Johnny Grippa won in 1:53.4, which was the fastest race mile on the Monticello Raceway double-oval this season. However, that mark didn’t last long because Tuesday (Aug. 5), Johnny Grippa won again, this time in a season’s best 1:53.1.
The 6-year-old altered son of Cam's Card Shark and Sky Yankee is owned and trained by Jack Sheehan and was driven to victory both times by Jimmy Devaux.
|Geri Schwarz photo|
|Johnny Grippa (No. 2-Jimmy Devaux) and Giddyallyougot (No. 3-Zeke Parker), owned by Vinnie Grippa, finish one-two for a unique Grippa exacta.|
Devaux sent 1-2 shot Johnny Grippa to the lead from the two hole while the other five each took a seat along the pylons behind him. They had two lengths at the quarter in :27.4 and were a full length in front as they passed the second stanza in :57. A :29 third quarter saw Jimmy Taggart Jr. the first to move with Bettorsluckystreak but they were a still a length off the leader at the three-quarters in 1:27.
At that point Devaux asked Johnny Grippa for more and the veteran pacer responded and drew away from his competition, pacing the final quarter in :27.1 as he finished in 1:53.1 for the pacer’s 10th win in 19 starts.
“He was more relaxed today and he raced even better than he did last Tuesday,” Devaux said, referring to Johnny Grippa. “He’s got legs like J-Lo but Jack (Sheehan, the trainer) works real hard on him to keep him sound and in top form.”
The second place finisher, two lengths behind the winner, was Giddyallyougot in rein to Zeke Parker, which made for a Grippa exacta, but not your usual one. This one combined a horse and owner each named Grippa.
The winner, of course, was Jack Sheehan’s Johnny Grippa and the second place finisher, Giddyallyougot, trained by Anthony Regina, is owned, oddly enough, by a gentleman named Vincent Grippa. Hence, the unique Grippa exacta paid $6.50.
In hand in the winner's circle was the Johnny Grippa’s breeder, Erich Boehm, who has owned and bred some nice harness horses for the past 50 years. He was there with some friends and they were en route to the Saratoga flats.
“I saw Johnny (Grippa) was in (to race) today so I thought we’d stop by Monticello to see him race,” Boehm related. “I own his dam (Sky Yankee) and she’s been a heck of a good broodmare.”
Vinnie Grippa, who also happened to be here to watch his horse race, overheard the Boehm group’s conversation and walked down the track's apron from where he was watching the race to introduce himself to Boehm.
“I’m Vinnie Grippa,” he said to Boehm with a smile as he shook his hand. “I was wondering where the horse’s name came from.”
“Johnny Grippa is my son-in law,” Boehm told Vinnie Grippa. “I like to name all my horses after family members, if I can.”
“You could probably understand that I’ve been wanting to claim Johnny Grippa for a long time now but my trainer says no,” Vinnie told Boehm. “Johnny Grippa owned by Vinnie Grippa would a gas but Anthony (Regina) warns against it. So I just watch Johnny Grippa winning.”