Day At The Track

French-American friendship competition

09:30 AM 22 Apr 2015 NZST
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The French-American friendship group Meadowview Arny with Monica Banca driving
The French-American friendship group
Sean Hamrock Photo
Meadowview Arny with Monica Banca driving
Sean Hamrock Photo

YONKERS, NY, Tuesday, April 21, 2015--She was a late replacement, but harness racing driver  Monica Banca was more than on time when it counted.

Filling in for originally-scheduled participant Robert Krivelin, Ms. Banca handily defended the honor of both country and gender, guiding Meadowview Arny ($7.40) to a decisive Tuesday afternoon win in Yonkers Raceway's French-American Friendship Competition.

Leading at every pylon in the mile-and-one-quarter, $15,200 event, pole-sitting "Arny" threw down intervals of :31.2, 1:02.1, 1:33.1 and 2:03, before finishing his work day 3¼ lengths in front of 9-10 favorite Amalfi Coast (Peter Kleinhans), who closed from ninth in the 10-horse field. The mile-and-quarter went in 2:32.2.

French drivers Romain Poree (Sun of a Victory), Christophe Roszak (Prince Lauxmont) and Michel Poirier (He'sgotlegs) finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively. France's Sophie Blanchetiere, the other woman in this competition, finished seventh with 87-1 outsider Mr. Invincible.

For second choice Meadowview Arny, a 7-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding trained by Ms. Banca's partner, Rick Dane Jr., for owner Stephanie Mitchell, it was his fourth win in 11 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $15.80, with the triple returning $66.

The competition was the last of five races during the French-centric matinee program, which again featured overflow trotting fields at the added, 1¼-mile distance.

"It was my plan to try and be in front," Banca said. "He's such a big, strong horse and doesn't mind the distance races. I'm just so excited." Ms. Banca, a native of Norway, won her 10th career race as a driver.

Ms. Banca, it should be noted, is one of the mover and shakers for the Raceway's initiatives in the fight again breast cancer. Last fall, she organized pink blanket sponsorships for winning horses, along with pink whips carried by drivers.

Frank Drucker

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