By john manzi for both NAADA and the Catskill Club
On Thursday June 23, with the sun bright in the blue summer sky and the temperature hovering around 80-degrees, two amateur races dotted the 11-race card at Monticello Raceway and when the judges hung the official signs, Alan Schwartz emerged victorious in the NAADA trot with Ladys Big Stormont in a 1:58.4 clocking while Joe Lee was the first home in the Catskill Club pace with TKR’s Metro Specs in 1:59.1
In his contest Schwartz hustled his trotter for the lead but they had to go a steppy :27.4 in order to rest command from Highest Hill and driver Rich Gayton. But once Ladys Big Stormont cleared and settled down along the pylons Schwartz tried to give his charge a breather but as they trotted to the halfway point Bob Hechkoff was out and moving with The Franchise and they ranged alongside the leader as the timer flashed :58.1. The two leaders raced head-to-head up the backside but Ladys Big Stormont was strong enough to rebuff his challenger.
When the field headed for home Ladys Big Stormont opened up two lengths and he needed every bit of that to turn back a late charge by Hannah Miller with Rev It Now.
“My horse went a tough mile especially being parked to the(first) quarter in 27:4 and then having to fight head to head with Hechkoff’s horse,” Schwartz said after the race. “We did draw clear as we headed for home but my guy was understandably tiring and all I could think of in the deep stretch was ‘where the heck is the wire’”
When the photo-finish camera snapped Ladys Big Stormont was a head better than Rev It Now . A short length farther back in third place was The Franchise.
Schwartz owns the winner whose trained by Raheim Strong. Sent off as the even-money favorite Ladys Big Stormont paid $4.00 for win.
Schwartz has been participating in amateur races since the 1980’s and now has 585 driving victories to his credit. A long time participant at Monticello Raceway against professionals he also serves as president of the local horseman’s organization.
In the other amateur driving contest New York Yankees assistant locker room manager, Joe Lee once again proved he knows his was around the racetrack after scoring is eighth seasonal driving victory this time with the Woody Hoblitzell-owned TKRs Metro Specs.
Sent off as the hot favorite from the pole position Lee naturally sent his pacer to the lead and once on top they commanded the race and kept Monica Banca’s Fox Valley Leo, who won this event last week, on the limb.
After a :28.3 first quarter Lee slowed the pace and his horse was steadfastly in charge as they led the field by the half in:59.2 and the three quarters in 1:29.2 As they rounded the final turn TKRs Metro Specs had a two length lead which was slowly diminishing as they headed for paydirt. Kennanskingwilliam was enjoying a two-hole trip and driver Gerry Fielding used the passing lane to put serious pressure on the leader. However, at the wire TKR Metro Specs held tough for a head triumph in the 1:59.1 mile. Third place went to Murphy’s Ideal, driven by Dr. Jennifer Lowrey.
“We had clear sailing all the way until the final strides when my pacer began to get a little leg-weary,” driver Joe Lee noted “Although Fielding’s horse was coming at us my horse was strong enough to get home with the victory.
Trained by Bruce Aldrich, Sr., TKR’s Metro Specs won for the third time this season and returned a $4.20 win mutuel.