by john manzi for NAADA
The fourth leg of the North American Amateur Driver’s Association’s Spring Trotting Series Thursday afternoon (April 13) at Monticello Raceway had plenty of action not only throughout the mile but especially in the lane as four horses finished heads apart with just a scant nose separating first and second place. And when the judges deciphered the extremely tight finish and hung the official sign, Woody, driven by “Yankee Joe” Lee was declared the winner; a very thin nose ahead of Sam’s Honeybee, driven by Tony Verruso.
The finish was so tight that racing room wasn’t plentiful and as the top four finishers approached the wire, Joe Lee’s sulky hooked Tony Verruso’s but thankfully, after the finish line the two sulkies got unhooked and the only problem lied in the judges hands to decipher what happened and were any rules broken.
As it turned out the judges determined that Sam’s Honeybee bore out in the deep stretch which caused the trotting mare’s sulky to hook Woody’s. When the race results were posted Woody was the winner and Sam’s Honey relegated to second money. Third place right there, was Sim Brown and driver John Kokinos.
Fortunately for Lee, Woody, hooked to was sulky, was longer than Sam’s Honeybee’s hook-up which allowed the former to be in front at the finish despite having his sulky’s wheel behind Sam’s Honeybee’s.
“We got away slowly and were far back at the quarter,” Joe Lee said in the paddock after the judge’s decision was made final. “We were still quite far behind (six Lengths) at the half but up the backside I moved three-deep and we were making up ground.
“Woody was in high gear when we straightened in the stretch and if Tony’s sulky hadn’t hooked mine we would have been a clear winner.”
No sooner had Lee finished explaining about his vision of the race than did he immediately grab his valise and was headed to Yankee Stadium where he is the assistant locker room manager. (And yes, Lee is on first name basis all the Yankee ballplayers).
Dismissed by the betting public and sent off at odds of over 8-1, Woody paid $18.20 for win. The veteran 7-year-old Glidemaster gelding is owned by Woody Hoblitzell and trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr.
It was the second seasonal victory for Woody and the fourth win this year for driver Joe Lee.