Monticello pacers lead nation in races won

02:22 AM 24 Jul 2014 NZST
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Diamond Tiara, harness racing Shortest Distance, harness racing
Diamond Tiara leads nation in races won in 2014
Photo by Geri Schwarz
Shortest Distance posts her 15th win this year
Photo by Geri Schwarz

When Diamond Tiara scored her 17th victory at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon, July 22nd that total continues to lead all others in races won this year in North America. And quietly, without much fanfare, Shortest Distance's 15th seasonal victory,,also on the Tuesday card, positions her a clear second on the North America leaderboard in races won in 2014.

"One of our highlights last year was keeping track of Tracys Song as she kept piling up wins and now this year we have two pacers who are one-two in races won on the continent," noted Eric Warner the tracks senior director of racing. "And again this year it's the girls (mares) making all the news."

Warner's comments are quite accurate where Diamond Tiara is concerned. The 7 year old daughter of McArdle-A Diamond In June has headlined many a story coming from the Mighty M this year. She was claimed from Philip Schultz for $9,000 by on June 16 by Al Annunziata and the following week Schultz claimed her back for the same price. But Schultz didn't have her long because Annunziata claimed her back again for $9,000 on June 30. During that three week stretch Diamond Tiara won twice and finished second when claimed on June 16.

After throwing a clunker in her race on July 8 where she was beaten 24 lengths and finished last, Annunziata's Diamond Tiara bounced back on Tuesday (July 22) and wired the field in a season's equaling 1:55.2.

Asked what happened to Diamond Tiara when she was beaten so badly on July 8, Annunziata explained: "Even though we stepped her up in class I knew there was something wrong with her.We had her scoped and found out she was full of mucus which tremendously hampered her breathing. I had the vet(veterinarian) work on her and today she was her old self and wired the field like she also did."

Bruce Aldrich Jr. was at the lines for Annunziata and he sent Diamond Tiara to the front and she paced through fractions of :28.1, 58.1; 1:27.2 being shadowed closely by Mike Merton with Get Your Own. They were on Aldrich's back as the field headed for home but when Aldrich asked for more, Diamond Tiara kicked in and opened up daylight and paced a :28 final stanza en route to a three length triumph in 1:55.2.

"She's (Diamond Tiara) got her issues," Aldrich admitted, "but when she gets to the top of the stretch on the lead she fights hard to win. And, as you have seen this year, she usually does (win)."

In 24 seasonal starts Diamond Tiara has won 17 times and has three second and three thirds and has bankrolled $29, 311.

Before Diamond Tiara was claimed from Annuniziata by Philip Schultz, Mike Watson had been her trainer. On July 7, with Watson's guidance, Schultz took Shortest Distance from Annunziata for $6,000 in a claiming race..

While racing for Annunziata, Shortest Distance had 14 wins in 23 starts and her first start for Watson and Schultz she finished fourth in a 1:56.4 mile with a $9,000 claiming tag.

But yesterday (July22) Shortest Distance took home all the money racing with a $6,000 claiming price. Watson's driver of choice, Jimmy Taggart, Jr. was at the lines and they wired the field and with a gritty :28 last quarter held off hold Midnight Mass and Zeke Parker by a head in a time of 1:56.3.

By the way, Taggart drove Diamond Tiara to 15 of her victories when she was in Watson's barn.

On Tuesday both Diamond Tiara ($5.40) and Shortest Distance ($3.40) were betting favorites in their races.

by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway

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