The grand ole campaigner's as good as ever

09:37 PM 08 Nov 2011 NZDT
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Southbound Trucker Mike Forte
Southbound Trucker
Geri Schwarz photo
Mike Forte

During his 2009 harness racing campaign Southbound Trucker was the Horse of the Year here at Monticello Raceway. He performed well last season but raced mostly out of town and this year having bankrolled just $22,000 the grand ole campaigner's numbers were running far behind his previous seasons outputs.

Nevertheless, at the Mighty M on the bright warm sunshiny afternoon of November 8, Southbound Trucker was as good as he ever was on a half mile track when he stalked the pacesetter, Real Mystical, and rallied in the final strides to be victorious in a 1:55.1 clocking for driver Mike Forte.

The odds-on favorite, Real Mystical, sped out for the lead from the five-hole but he had to work hard to gain command which he finally did just before the :27.4 first quarter clocking.

From there driver Bruce Aldrich, Jr. had Real Mystical showing the way but, now against the best pacers on the grounds, Aldrich’s charge couldn’t runaway and hide as he often did when competing in claiming events. Still Real Mystical had the lead up the backside and Southbound Trucker finally approached him as the two headed into the final turn.

And when the two leaders straightened for home Southbound Trucker, whose closing kick was always his strong suit, began to wear down Real Mystical and at the wire Southbound Trucker was a head winner over Real Mystical. Speaking Greek and Cory Stratton took home the show dough. It was only the second time that Mike Forte sat behind Southbound Trucker but the pacer responded well for him.

“Even though they were going along at a good clip I pulled him heading for the half and let him grind his way forward,” Forte said referring to Southbound Trucker. “Up the backside we kept picking up horses and when we reached the leader on the final turn I ducked back in along the pylons and waited for the straightaway. And when I pulled him in the lane I knew he was going to wear down Real Mystical and win it.”

The victory was the fifth of the year for Southbound Trucker who’s owned by George Stamatien of West Haven, Ct. He paid $9.30 for win.

Southbound Trucker’s win was one of four on the card for Forte who now has 130 for the meeting. He won both parts of the early double; Game Jocko (1:55.3) in the first and Jo Pa’s Wild Card (1:56) in the second. He also won the ninth with Mizuno (1:56.4).

John MANZI

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