Saturday, June 11, was Ladies Night at Tioga Downs in the CKG Billings Amateur Driving series when the ladies finished one-two in the $6000 trotting event, Monica “the Norwegian Flash” Banca won the contest with Brandos Muscle Man and “Hurricane Hannah” Miller was the runner-up with Shanghai Jack in the 1:57.1 trotted mile.
“It was so much fun” Banca related after her three- length triumph. “We claimed him (Brandos Muscle Man) at Yonkers (Raceway) a while back but this was the first time I had the pleasure of driving him. He’s such a classy old guy and the best horse I have ever driven.”
And drive him she did. When the wings of the gate folded Banca sent her charge to the lead from the five- hole and they gained command in the 28-second first quarter with “Hurricane Hannah” and Shanghai Jack tucked in neatly in the two-hole as they passed that stanza.
From there, the ladies traveled one-two around the Tioga Downs five-eighths mile oval with Brandos Muscle Man showing the way and Shanghai Jack tight on Banca’s back. But as the leaders straightened for home Banca’s trotter opened daylight on her immediate challenger and drew off to a three-length victory.
“I thought it was kind of strange that we were sent off as the 1-9 favorite when we weren’t even the morning line favorite in the race,” Banca related. “But my horse was so good that all I had to do was sit still and he did the rest. Brandos Muscle Man is such a classy old veteran that my 14-year old son sat up behind him and trained him last week.”
After finishing second “Hurricane Hannah” Miller told Banca that she wished the ladies could be one-two every week.
Third place in the Saturday night Billings contest went to Buck ID driven by John J “Jersey Boy” Turok.
Banca co-owns the Brandos Muscle Man with the Rock And Roll Stable. He’s trained by Rick Dane, Jr. and the veteran trotter paid just $2.30 for win. For the former Norwegian miss it was her third seasonal triumph and 14th since she started driving in the U.S. in 2013.