Day At The Track

Mike Merton - 2012 Munich Mile champion

01:47 PM 31 Jul 2012 NZST
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Mike Merton and Romi Mystic (7) rally Munich mile winner Mike Merton receives
Mike Merton and Romi Mystic (7) rally - to get up and win in a five horse photo. Time: 1:58.1.
Monticello Raceway Photo
Munich mile winner Mike Merton receives - the trophy from marketing co-odinator, Tricia Estella
Monticello Raceway Photo

There's an old adage that states 'good things come to those who wait' and that maxim certainly was germane to the outcome of Monticello Raceway's Munich Mile on Monday afternoon, July 30 when winning driver Mike Merton waited at the back of the pack in the early going and then rallied to victory in the race for harness racing drivers of German descent , which was the fifth leg of the Mighty M's Heritage Drivers Series.

Merton, up behind Romi Mystic , prevailed in an exciting 1:58.1 victory which saw five of the pacers come together in a blanket finish.

In a race that was jam-packed with early speed, Greg Decker, Jr. set sails from the five hole with Bet On Lindy but it wasn't until the pacers passed the quarter pole in :28 that Will Harmon, driving the favorite, Stirling Beauty from the pole position, took back and allowed Decker's pacer to take charge.

From there Decker took the field by the half in :57 and was still in command over a tightly bunched field as they paced by the third stanza in 1:27.

They were four wide on the final bend and as the field rushed toward the wire. Romi Mystic, on the far outside, prevailed by just a head over Stirling Beauty and Will Harmon ,who found room down the passing lane to get up for second money. Third place went to the pace-setter Bet On Lindy.

"Things just went our way here today," winning driver Mike Merton explained as he was being presented the trophy after his driving victory. "They (the leaders) went quick on the front-end which was perfect for me. I moved third-over up the backside and then slid four-deep on the final turn to get around the tightly bunched field. When we came off the turn we had a clear shot to the finish and my mare was the strongest at the wire."

The winner, a 6-year-old Modern Art mare is owned by Edward Hall of Lebanon, CT. and trained by Dan Gill. She returned a $6.60 win mutuel.

Among the participating drivers was German professional, Wim Paal, who is currently in the States racing a few trotters. He accepted an invitation to drive in the Munich Mile and was excited about driving a pacer in a race because in Europe only trotters are allowed. He finished a very close fifth.

"I had a good trip in the early going and had plenty of horse at the finish but there was no room for us to make a move in the stretch because the horses were tightly bunched," Paal told Eric Warner the tracks director of racing after the event had been completed." But I thoroughly enjoyed my first-time drive behind a pacer and I thank you for inviting me to participate."

Others who drove and where they finished included; Cory Stratton (4th) Peter Kleinhans (6th) Keith Haase (7th) and Greg Merton (8th)

With his victory Merton earned a berth in the Heritage Series Final, dubbed the All-America Cup, which will be presented later this fall and that race will feature the winning drivers of the ethnic series preliminary legs.

by John MANZI

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