by John Manzi for the Catskill Amateur Club
On Thursday afternoon (October 29) at Monticello Raceway two paces in the Catskill Amateur Club Series a pair of Tony’s emerged victorious; Tony Ciuffetelli with McCabe Hall and Tony Verruso with Talldarknhandsome.
Cuiffetelli, a retired correction officer from Saratoga Springs, used the front-end route to score a 1:57.4 pacing triumph with his own McCabe Hall holding off a late charge by ER Leon, driven by Hannah Miller.
After starting from the five-hole Ciuffetelli, a graduate from the Morrisville Equine program, parked out Paul Walker and GoGo Buckeye to a :28.2 first panel. With McCabe Hall still on cruise control as they passed the midway point Hannah Miller, who was second-up with ER Leon, moved her pacer around Walker’s and was then in second place but still on the limb.
For there McCabe Hall and ER Leon raced side by side around the final turn and into the home stretch. The two pacers were head to head through the lane with Ciuffetelli’s McCabe Hall the stronger of the two at the wire with McCabe Hall a neck winner over ER Leon. Third place went to Casimir Jubilee with Allan Cisco aboard.
“He’s a classy old horse and a pleasure to drive,” Ciuffetelli said of McCabe Hall. Owned and trained by Ciuffetelli the winner returned a $5.80 win mutuel.
Recovering from a bad bout with Lyme Disease it was Cuiffetelli’s third driving victory in 14 seasonal starts and 26th of his amateur career.
The second Catskill amateur event, also a pace, saw Tony Verruso notch his second consecutive victory behind Talldarknhandsome. One of the biggest horses racing today Talldarknhandsome approaches 18 hands and surprisingly the big fella is lazy, and a stat which seems odd since the 7-year-old Life Sign gelding scored his 15th victory today.
After Gerry Fielding and Tyler’s A Big Star parked Verruso’s pacer past the quarter in :28.3 Fielding kept his challenger on the limb as the field passed the halfway point in :57.3. However rounding the third turn Tyler’s a Big Guy took a misstep and went off-stride which caused confusion among the trailing horses. Talldarknhansome being first-over cleared Tyler’s A Big Star as did Hannah Miller with Rise Above it. But the breaking horse scattered the field and it became a two horse race from the five-eighths to the wire with Talldarknhandsome prevailing by length over Rise Above It. Third place went to Art’s Jimmy Ray in rein to Paul Walker.
“He’s not easy to drive,”Verruso said of Talldarknhandsome. “He’d so big he’s hard to see around and he runs out on the turns and runs in on the straightaways. But with constant urging he just keeps going forward.”
Owned by Ed Hall and James Hall and trained by Danny Gill Talldarknhandsome paid $3.10 for win. Verruso, president of the Billings Series, notched his 5th seasonal victory and 58th of his amateur career.