For “Congenial Gene” Miller, and his trusty steed, Bingham, their victory at Balmoral Park in Crete, Ill. in a C.K.G. Billings Amateur Series midwest regional contest on June 18 marked their first win together this year--- but hardly their first ever.
When Miller, a retired General Motors factory worker and previous National Amateur Driver of the Year, reined Bingham to a 1.58.4 triumph over Rompaway Ulaine and driver “Dynamite Dave” Drew, Miller recorded his 168th victory of his amateur driving career; which is no small feat in itself.
However, arguably more impressive was the fact that Bingham, an 11-Year-Old altered son of Darvin, scored his 105th career win.
For Bingham, getting his photograph taken in the winners circle started on July 14, 1998 when Randy Brown reined him --then a pacer--to his maiden victory in a time of 2.06.3 at the Fair in Big Rapids, Michigan.
And Bingham began the 1999 season as a pacer and had won four races-- the fastest, a 2.00.2 effort at Sports Creek Raceway before a change occurred.
By early summer Miller had other plans for the son of Darvin and he converted him to the diagonal gait and on June 30 Bingham made his inauspicious initial start in which he went off stride and fished last. Undaunted, Miller started him again the next week at the Fair at Lake Odessa, Michigan and Bingham reeled off his first trotting victory clocked in 2.10.1. When the 1999 racing season was over Bingham had recorded 19 trotting victories to go along with his 4 pacing triumphs. Now he has 105---94 on the trot, 11 on the pace-- and counting; a truly amazing statistic.
Last Sunday at Balmoral Park, Bingham started from post six and went an overland trip but it didn’t deter him from his goal. Miller rallied the old warhorse in the lane and Bingham scored a nose victory over stablemate, Rompaway Ulaine and driver, Dave Drew. Third place went to Primmarose Hotspur in rein to Mike “the Mortgage Man” Mitchell.
The previous day, June 17, Plainridge Racecourse in Plainville, Mass. hosted two eastern region Billings events and when the dust settled their Alan “the Intimidator” Schwartz and Todd “the Downeaster” Whitney each drove a winner.
Schwartz, who notched his first Billings victory of the year, bided his time before he asked his trotter to go but when he did Northeast dug in and trotted around the pace-setter, KW’s Champion and driver, Steve “Cannonball” Markoff, and went on to a one length triumph in a 2:00:2 clocking. KW’s Champion held on for second place and Prime Number, driven by Rob “Rapid Rail” Krivelin, finished third.
Whitney, on the other hand, had a much easier time when he scored his victory with Christopher. When favoured Maledictorian (Joe “the Jewelry King” Pennacchio) went off-stride at the start Whitney and Christopherearl scooted away in second place behind second choice, Stars Photo but the “Bangor Bill” Varney-driven trotter jumped it off near the half-mile pole and Christopherearl scooted away to an insurmountable lead and coasted home an easy five length winner over Sonic Marvel, who was driven by Terry “the Dairy Queen” Donnelly. Third place went to Luke’s Frank, in rein to “Iron Mike” Strada.
On Sunday, June 25 the “Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing” moves north of the boarder with a wild card leg slated to be contested at Flamboro Downs in Hamilton, Ontario.
Courtesy Of John Manzi, Billings Publicist