Brilliant New York harness racing driver Bruce Aldrich Jr has already won a plaque for the most driving wins over a decade (2000-2009) at Monticello Raceway, and now the 43-year-old finds himself battling with his childhood hero for driving dominance at that track in 2011. That hero is Billy (Zeke) Parker Jr, who following today's (Tuesday November 8) meeting at Monticello Raceway, trailed Aldrich Jr by 11 wins.
A day earlier Aldrich Jr had stretched his “comfort zone” by four with a quartet of wins behind CC Make A Buck, Blue Creek Angie, Life’s Bandit, and Townline Zebus. Aldrich Jr trains the former two pacers.
“It’s sometimes hard to believe that I’m battling it out again with someone I admired so much growing up. He’s not only a fantastic driver, but Zeke is a great person as well. He’s an inspiration and a legend in harness racing,” Aldrich Jr told Harnesslink.
Aldrich Jr is not wrong. Parker Jr sits seventh on the all-time list of dash driving wins with 10,562 – that’s even 118 more than the legendary John Campbell.
So for Aldrich Jr to be serving it up to Parker is no mean feat.
Aldrich has won 323 races at Monticello this year compared to Parker’s 312. Jim Taggart Jr is almost 80 wins adrift in third.
“It’s been a great season but I’ve still got quite a few more more to go to achieve my personal best,” Aldrich Jr said.
All up the Brattleboro (Vermont) native has won 351 races in 2011 – exactly 100 fewer than what he achieved in2010.
He’s also won more than $1.1 million in purses forthe fifth time in six seasons.
Aldrich’s lifetime stats read – 3,745 wins from 23,339 starts. He’s also placed 7,288 times for $11.4 million in lifetime purses.
He regarded two recent records as the highlight of his 2011 to date.
“Cornishman N’s track record of 1:57 a few weeks ago was special. I thought that was apretty amazing win considering he’s a 12-year-old trotter from down your way (New Zealand).
“Then there was my win in this year’s Little Grey Jug at Monticello Raceway in September.
“Little Trigger won in 1:53.4 setting a new track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings.”
Asked what the best horse he had driven was, Aldrich Jr replied:
“There’s been a few but Sophisticat stands out. She was the leading dash winner (trotter) last year. She won 18 races in 2010 and was a pleasure to drive.”
Aldrich Jr has been driving at Monticello Raceway since 1999. Together with his wife April they have won half a dozen training titles, while Aldrich has won a couple of driving premierships.
April is currently in sixth place at Monticello with 60 wins.
“April does the training and I do the driving. We compliment each other well. She has won more than 1,200 races and just over $4 million since 2001. I’m very proud of her,” Aldrich said.
The Aldrichs train a team of 14 out of Monticello.They have had that number as high as 36 but it fluctuates depending on the time of the season.
Aldrich Jr is a second generation horseman. His father Bruce has trained 40 winners this season.
“Both my uncles – Basil and Bernard are both horsemen as well, so harness racing runs deep in our family. I was always destined to follow in their footsteps.
“I had my own stable when I was 16. I had just a couple of cheap claimers. I used to train them before and after school, and the when I graduated from high School I started driving,” Aldrich Jr said.
He then worked for his father in his early 20s before setting up his own establishment in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
“y on I was racing at Saratoga, Scarborough, and Maine. I remember working in some very harsh winter conditions back in those days. It was tough but worth it. I came to Monticello in 1999. That was the year I married April,” Aldrich Jr said.
The Aldrichs have two children – Jordan (12) and Briana (9).
Outside of harness racing Aldrich Jr said he enjoyed all the major American sports.
“I like to bowl and I’m also a supporter of New England sport. The teams I like to follow are the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox,” he said.
“Above all though, I’m a family man. You don’t get much spare time in this job and what time I do get I want to spend it with my family,” he added.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
Bruce Aldrich winning four races at Monticello Raceway on Monday November 7, 2011:
CC Make A Buck:
Blue Creek Angie: