When Mighty M harness racing driver Greg Merton was anxiously awaiting the arrival of trainer Pete Pellegrino from Florida some wondered why. After all, Pellegrino isn't a household name around here but he is a top conditioner and his horses speak for the man's talents.
When Pellegrino left Pompano Park a month or so ago, he was atop the trainer’s leaderboard there with 56 wins in 249 starts (those stats calculated on seasonal racing dates which began last fall). That followed a 2011 season where White Plains-native harnessed 83 winners which captured the leading trainer crown as Pompano Park’s leading trainer.
So Merton was on to something when he was in anticipation of Pellegrino’s arrival.
“I really look forward to driving for Pete because when I get behind one of his horses they go forward,” Merton related. “Pete’s a good horseman and an outstanding trainer. I’m lucky to be driving for him.”
Since his recent arrival at Monticello Raceway the Merton-Pellegrino combination has produced 19 winners in just 40 starts . And when his seconds and thirds are factored in Pellegrino is jogging along with an incredible .604UTR. (training average).
On May 3rd Merton and Pellegrino teamed-up for a 1:58.3 victory with Betterthanlynx and on the previous afternoon Merton guided home two winners from the Pellegrino barn. One was a 1:59.2 triumph with pacer, Mr. Socks—his second consecutive-- and the other was with another pacer, See You Smile in 2:00.
Merton and Pellegrino also produced a winner on the Monday and Tuesday cards and over the 4-day Monticello Raceway week, Pellegrino’s small stable had five winners in just seven starts..
“This man is a rising star,” Merton insists. “If one of Pete’s horses draws in and I am listed on another horse in that race I immediately change to drive Pete’s. I know his horses are fit and ready to win.”
by John MANZI