Three times a charm for Talldarknhandsome

02:00 AM 10 May 2014 NZST
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Talldarknhandsome, harness racing Mike Merton, harness racing
Talldarknhandsome does it again with his third straight win
Photo by Geri Schwarz
Mike Merton has four winners at Monticello
Photo by Geri Schwarz
Talldarknhandsome, the undisputed tallest harness race horse on the grounds, scored his third consecutive victory for the trainer-driver combination of Danny Gilland Jimmy Marohn, Jr. at Monticello Raceway on Thursday afternoon (May 8).

Marohn guided the altered pacing son of Life Sign to 1:57.3 nose victory over Wizard Of Art and Jimmy Devaux.

"Hey a win by a nose is still a win," joked Marohn after the race and then confided honestly, "He wasn't as strong at the finish this week as he was last week but he still got the job done."

When the gate sprung Marohn sent his pacer to the lead and they had command on the first turn and they led the field by the quarter in :28.3. After a :59 half, and although Talldarknhandsome was trying to run out on the straightaways, he had enough in the tank to pace two more 29 and a piece final quarters and keep Wizard of Art at bay.

"He runs out because his feet are stinging him when he's going fast. He wears flip-flops which help ease the pain a bit," trainer Gill offered, with straight face.

The flip flops that Gill was referring to are Talldarknhandsome's front shoes.

Gill then lifted his pacer's right front leg to show the bottom of foot with the shoe he referred to as the flip flop. "He runs out because his feet hurt him and this kind of shoeing relieves some of the pain. But with a wet track like today he wasn't grabbing it well because of the full pad over the foot."

A closer inspection showed that there was a full-swedge aluminum shoe tacked on the front of the hoof and over a plastic pad that covered the whole foot.

"See, he said," as he stretched the pad from the frog area. "It moves up and down some and it helps relieve shock when he going fast and the pad acts as a cushion. That's why we call it a flip flop. "

It was the fourth seasonal triumph for Talldarknhandsome who's owned by the Ed Hall brothers, James and Edward from Connecticut.

Talldarknhandsome's triumph was perhaps overshadowed by the four driving victories by longtime Mighty M regular, Mike Merton who currently is fifth in races won on the local leaderboard.

Merton started the afternoon with a trotting victory in the second race behind Big Z Fortune ($65.50) in 2:03.3 over a then wet racetrack. He won the next race with pacer Savvy Hawk ($21.40) in 2:01.4. Now with a bright sunshine drying out the racetrack Merton then won the seventh race with See You Smile,($7.80) with a wire to wire effort in a time of 1:56.4 and he concluded the afternoon winning the eighth and final race on the card with Check My Pulse ($28.20) in a 1:59.1 clocking.

Reached in the paddock after the races Merton was asked if he'll now be known as "Longshot Mike"?

He laughed and with his deep baritone drawl said "No... but I had some power and though they went off long (priced) they raced good today. I figured to have a good shot with See You Smile and we went wire to wire. In the other three races I sat back off the quick early fractions and let them do the work up front. Then I came late to pick up all the pieces.

by John Manzi, for Monticello Raceway
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