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The Great Sanzeri
Monday, January 13, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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The other day Dave Palone won half of the races on the Meadows program. This is quite an accomplishment and accomplishments are nothing new to Dave Palone. But we have to start looking at such achievements with regard to detail and, when applauding them, with the betting public in mind.

Let me propose, for instance, a story of trainer-driver Joseph Sanzari. Though he has not been a source for a special report at any track in the history of my participation in this sport on either side of the apron, there should have been a mention of his achievement on Jan. 8 at Pompano.

I will explain by using the report on Palone’s eight-win evening. Winning eight races on one 16-race card is obviously notable and should be broadcasted, as is a constant use of the name Palone because champions bring in fans. But on that night, Palone had 14 drives. His winner’s prices were topped at $6.40 and bottomed paying $2.60. Palone fans play Palone horses, streak or no streak.

That night, though, Palone drove six losers. One was a big favorite (1-1) and the others went off at 4-1, 5-1, 8-1, 5-1 and 7-2. Palone had to win eight races to make his fans $6. All right, that is a decent profit if you count on only one element, the driver. But that same day, far from the deep-freezing winds of Pittsburgh, the tale of Joseph Sanzari was in motion.

At Pompano, Joe Sanzeri had three mounts. Joe won all three. Joe’s horses paid $33.80, $17 and $6.40. Sanzeri won three races to make his fans a profit of $52.20. The profit margin is remarkable, not to mention his driving record that night, coming in at 100 percent.

This is a tale that deserves to be told, not just to pump up Sanzeri as a trainer-driver, but to send a message to people on the outside of the four walls of our business, especially prospective patrons of pari-mutuels.

I ask myself, what would P.T. Barnum have done with the story? I think he would have gone berserk, sending colorful, drama-laced reports on the evening of profit from The Great Sanzeri, pumping the fact that he was unbeatable on Jan. 8 and gave his supporters enough to spend a night out in the fabulous city of Pompano Beach. Or something as boastful.

These things happen regularly in our sport to many horsemen, but we put a premium on streaks and speed and numbers that don’t affect most bettors in the ways that attract them. I love Dave Palone and anyone who risks his or her life to drive harness horses that people support with wagers, having no other interest in them, financially or emotionally. But we have to start promoting all of their accomplishments, especially when horsemen like The Great Sanzeri pull off a profit coup like he did on Jan. 8 at Pompano.

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