In what was supposed to be the confrontation between two pacers with the most victories in North America this season unfortunately didn’t materialize. The often claimed duo of Diamond Tiara and Shortest Distance were in to go against one another in the fifth race on the Monticello Raceway card of Monday, August 18 and that confrontation was looked forward to by the local rail birds.
However, Philip Schultz’, Diamond Tiara, who ships in from a training farm in Wind Gap , Pa, some 90 miles from the Mighty M, couldn’t answer the call when the van she was riding in broke down en route to Monticello. The 7 year old pacing daughter of McArdle, a 17- time winner this year and one who has been claimed four times since mid-June and currently back in the Mike Watson barn, became a late scratch.
Awaiting her arrival for the clash was another 17-time seasonal winner, Shortest Distance, a 9 year-old Park Place mare again the property of Marissa Godinez after being claimed four times in her last five starts.
Although many race goers were disappointed when the six-horse field of $7500 claimers was reduced to just five starters, none were more thwarted than the mares’ drivers Jimmy Taggart, Jr. (Diamond Tiara) and Bruce Aldrich, Jr. (Shortest Distance). Both were on the muscle expecting an exciting event, each believing their pacer would become the sole horse with the most wins this year. However, as an old adage states; the best laid plans of men and mice sometimes go awry,still the show had to go on. And on it went for Shortest Distance and driver Bruce Aldrich, Jr. who didn’t have to contend with Diamond Tiara who had drawn the pole position.
No sooner had the wings of the mobile starting gate folded, Aldrich sent the 1-9 favorite to the lead from the three-hole and after the first stanza was paced in a soft :29 it was Katie bar the door as Shortest Distance rambled to win number 18 , this time in a 1:57.3 clocking. Austin Siegelman mounted a late charge with Theron Seelster but second best was all they could muster.
“We certainly had an easy time of it when Diamond Tiara was scratched but I believe it wouldn’t have been ifwas in the race,” Aldrich said after his victory. “I’ve driven Diamond Tiara a couple of times this year and I know she’s gritty and no pushover. But don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the victory just the same.”
Shortest Distance who paid just $2.30 for win, evaded another claim and remains, at least for now, in the barn of Al Annunziata who claimed her last week for Marissa Godinez.
Maybe that victory lit a fire in Aldrich because after that race he won four others on the card and now with 358 seasonal driving victories he currently is sixth in North America races won. Last year his 645 winners tied him with Dave Palone for second place in North America behind Ronnie Wrenn, Jr.s 714.
No photo of Shortest Distance’s victory on Monday, or for that matter any pictures of the remaining winners on the card is available because strangely the Mighty M’s award winning photographer, Geri Schwarz was stung by a bee before the Shortest Distance race transpired and because of an allergic reaction she was immediately rushed to the local hospital where she thankfully recovered.