MONTICELLO, NY - It's not like it was totally unexpected but Monticello Raceway's Au Revoir, the race exclusively for 14 year olds who will be forced into retirement on January 1, 2014, failed to attract enough entries.
"When we opened the (entry) box this morning we only had three entries," noted Eric Warner, the tracks Director of Racing." Actually I was somewhat surprised because we worked hard on filling the race and there seemed to be quite a lot of interest."
However, Warner shouldn't be too surprised since after the Mighty M first staged the race for the retiring crew back in 1991 only four other times in the 22 following years did the Au Revoir fill.
Although the race was presented three times in the last four years, still getting enough entries is never a given.
"We are asked from time to time why don't you include 12 and 13 year olds but it wouldn't be the same race. That it doesn't always fill (get enough entries) every year makes the AuRevoir that much more special," Warner explained.
Of all five of the Au Revoir's that were raced the most exceptional occurred last year when Whitlock N and driver, Jr. turned back the much hyped and race favorite, Tattler's Jet in a time of 2:01.3.
To say that the 2012 Au Revoir was much hyped would be an understatement. That $5000 race drew a full page story with a photo of Tattler's Jet and his trainer, on the opening page of their sports section sports page in the New York Times and there was a follow-up story the next day, also of huge proportions.
The USTA's Ellen Harvey, whose unwavering assistance helped get the story published, said a few days after the event "Never did a $5000 race get so much coverage."
A race exclusively for 14 year olds near the end of the year is unique in that not only is it hard to find enough 14 year old standardbreds still competing in late December but it is the final race in the careers of the entrants because every January 1 all horses become one year older, no matter when they were foaled, and at 15 years old all Standardbreds have to hang up their racing shoes.
"Although we are discouraged by not being able to fill the Au Revoir this year we'll definitely try again next season," Warner promised.
By John Manzi for Monticello Raceway