Day At The Track
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Harness racing driver Greg Merton won four of Monticello Raceway's 13 on Thursday, Apr. 8, including the two conditioned co-features.   Merton began his day on the right foot, capitalizing on a leader's break with Junior's Dew in the opener. He placed the seven-year-old into the pocket spot through the quarter in :28.1 and followed leader No Stone Unturned (Jim Devaux) to the half in :58.1.   No Stone Unturned promptly went off stride at that point, gifting the lead to Juniors Dew who led to three-quarters in 1:27.2 and opened up a three-and-a-quarter-length gap in the lane for a 1:56.1 win. Stop Action (Brandon Parker) came from last to take the place spot, and Our Regal Ideal N (Cory Stratton) was third.   JUNIOR'S DEW REPLAY     Juniors Dew is now 14-for-105 with more than $95,000 in earnings. Ashley Eldred trains the Western Ideal gelding for Marianna Monaco of Poughquag. The horse paid $4 to win.   After winning two more in between, Merton took the other co-feature in a wire-to-wire romp with Sb Mikes Hot Beach.   He sent the journeyman stallion to the lead immediately, taking the front end unopposed. Sb Mikes Hot Beach settled in, guiding the field through splits of :28.3, :58.1, and 1:27.3 before leaving the pack behind in the final quarter in a 1:56.1 win by five and a half lengths.   Runhappy Ten (Jim Devaux) was best of the remainder in second, and Cee Pee Panic (Michael Merton) took show money.   SB MIKES HOT BEACH REPLAY     Candace Brandsetter trains Sb Mikes Hot Beach for Nicole Mason of Freedom. The 13-year-old horse by Magical Mike has won 45 races in a 276-race career and earned more than $355,000.   Merton and his brother, Michael, combined for six victories on the day. Greg also won aboard Rise Up Now (1:58.2) in the second and Ok Galahad (1:56.4) in the 10th. Michael visited the winner's circle after the sixth and ninth with Mikey Boy (1:58.1) and Donau (1:57.3), respectively. Another Merton sibling, Thomas, trained Donau.   Also on the card, Joseph Pennacchio won the North American Driving Association 4th Leg trot with 50-1 longshot Keystone Blade. Pennacchio contested the early lead with his charge before settling for the pocket spot, then came back around at three-quarters and out-kicked the rest of the field to win by two and three quarter lengths in 1:59.2.   KEYSTONE BLADE REPLAY     Keystone Blade and Pennacchio won their first NAADA appearance of the season on Mar. 25. Keystone Blade, an eight-year-old Yankee Glide gelding, is trained by Cory Stratton for Joe P Racing LLC of Delray Beach. The horse is 23-for-161 lifetime with just shy of $175,000 earned. He paid $102 to win.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink  

Monticello, NY---When Joe Pennacchio's trotter, Keystone Blade, drew the eight-hole in the NAADA trot today (April 8) at Monticello Raceway he wasn't discouraged. After all, Keystone Blade had gone wire to wire in 1:58 against similar company two weeks ago at Yonkers Raceway. So, in the amateur trot this afternoon Pennacchio sent his veteran trotter toward the front when the wings of the mobile gate folded at odds of 50-1 and they ranged alongside the pace-setter Pound Sterling (Bob Hechkoff) as they trotted to the first quarter in a swift :28.4.. "When I ranged alongside Hechkoff I could see he wasn't going to let me go so I grabbed leather and backed my horse into the two-hole," Pennacchio said."And once settled in I just followed the leader for a ways." Hechkoff kept the pedal to the metal and showed the way by the half in :59 with Pennacchio's trotter tight on his back. "When we headed up the backside for the second time I moved off the pylons as the trailing horses were beginning to rally and I didn't want to get locked-in,"Pennacchio explained. Keystone Blade was moving forward but Pound Sterling still had command when they trotted into the final turn. And when they straightened for home it was all Keystone Blade as the veteran 8-year-old Yankee Glide gelding began to draw off and went on to a 2-1/2 length triumph in 1:59.2. KEYSTONE BLADE REPLAY   Alan Schwartz, who was following the leaders throughout with Ladys Big Stormont, got up in the final strides to collar Pound Sterling for te place money. Maybe it was the eight-hole or perhaps Pennachio's first Mighty M start this season, but for whatever reason the betting public sent Keystone Blade away at odds of 50-1. Those who believed were rewarded with across the board mutuels of $102.00 to win, $47.00 to place and $18.00 show. For full race results, click here. by John Manzi, for NAADA

Credit List's late swoop in the Apr. 7 feature at Monticello Raceway earned him a third Open Trot win in four weeks.   With Justin Huckabone at the controls, the six-year-old gelding settled into the four-hole going through the first turn and continued in that spot through the :29.3 opening quarter. He went to the outside approaching the half in :58.1 and caught the cover of Cinnamon Stick (Bruce Aldrich Jr.) as they pursued longshot leader American JJ (Michael Miller).   Credit List forged to the three-path going by three-quarters in 1:27.3 as Cinnamon Stick began to stall and accelerated coming off the turn. Kabang (Michael Merton), who saved ground and went up the rail, briefly gained a stretch advantage. Credit List was brimming with late pace, though, and outkicked Kabang to win by half a length in 1:57.3.   Kabang was second, and Cinnamon Stick stayed on for show. The winner paid $3.   CREDIT LIST REPLAY     Credit List breaks the $150,000 earnings mark with the victory and improve his lifetime record to 15-for-103. Justin Huckabone also trains the son of Credit Winner for Jonathan Appelbaum of Yorktown Heights.   Monticello will be back with an extended 13-race card on Thursday, Apr. 8.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Australian-born harness racing gelding Epaulette A drew away following a confident steer from Bruce Aldrich Jr. in the Open Pace at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday, Apr. 6.   Aldrich slotted him into second before the first turn as Weekend Atnannies (Cory Stratton) went forward to take the lead. Epaulette A then went back around and took command in a :28 first panel. He led through splits of :58 and 1:27 before repelling all prospective challengers in the final quarter to win by two and three quarter lengths in 1:56.3.   Weekend Atnannies took second, and first-over challenger KJ Erich (Jim Taggart Jr.) fought on for show. The winner was a well-backed favourite, paying $2.70.   EPAULETTE A REPLAY     Epaulette A is now 37-for-153 lifetime and has earned more than $360,000. Laura Perino trains and co-owns the son of Four Starzzz Shark with Aldrich.   Monticello Raceway will return on Wednesday, Mar. 7 with an eight-race card beginning at 12:10 p.m. EDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Lacarmeliliana was in command throughout the Monticello Raceway conditioned harness racing feature pace on Monday, Apr. 5.   Bruce Aldrich Jr. authoritatively drove on to the front with the eight-year-old, reaching the lead with little difficulty in a :28 first split. Aldrich managed fractions of :58.4 to the half and 1:28.3 to three-quarters.   Jericho Diva (Shane Taggart) made a first-over push turning for home, but Lacarmeliliana turned her away with no encouragement needed from Aldrich. Lacarmeliliana sprinted home under wraps to win by four lengths in 1:58. Jericho Diva's efforts resulted in the place spot, and Tyronbettorsella N (Cory Stratton) was third.   LACARMELILIANA REPLAY     Lacarmeliliana is an Ashlee's Big Guy mare trained by Christopher Petrelli for George Dremonas of Oak Lawn. The horse is now 22-for-174 lifetime with more than $125,000 in earnings. She paid $3.60.   Aldrich had two more winners on the afternoon: Metro Glide (1:58) in the second and Sweet Ginger (1:59.2) in the eighth.   Monticello Raceway will return on Tuesday, Apr. 6 with an eight-race program starting at 12:10 p.m. EDT.   For full race results, click here.   by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink

Behind Billy "Zeke" Parker, no driver has won more races at Monticello Raceway, but on Tuesday afternoon (Mar. 16) at Monticello Raceway, the driver with the second most wins at the track, Bruce Aldrich Jr. won 4 races on the afternoon. Aldrich scored with Pine Tab (2:03.2- $13.00) as the 12-year-old gelded son of Cantab Hall notched his 3 win of the year. Cee Pee Panic scored on the front end and uncorked a final ¼ of 28.4 to win in 1:58 - $3.80 for trainer Chris Petrelli. Epaulette A scored in a tight photo over Im A Director N in 1:57.3. To round out the program, Bruce enjoyed a garden trip aboard Special Graduate to overtake pace setter Better Up by a nose in 1:58.2 for trainer Dave Dziengiel. Also on the card, the combination of Bruce Aldrich and trainer Laura Perino accounted for 2 winners on the afternoon and Cory Stratton enjoyed a driving double. For full race results, click here. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - On Wednesday, March 10 at Monticello Raceway, Jim Taggart Jr. won 4 races on the 8 race harness racing card. The banner day started in the second race aboard Quik Pulse Mindale gelding Heart Throb Kid (2:01.4 - $26.60); it was the first seasonal win for the Francis McCahey trainee. Chance To See (1:58.4-$5.50) by We Will See notched his 3rd win of the season over SB Mikes Hot Beach. Next up was aptly timed Western Ideal gelding Stimulus Plan (2:00.1 - $3.00) trained by Dan Gill. Taggart's last win of the day was with Spider Dragon who scored a wire to wire win over Vel Miss Fire in 2:00.1, the gelded son of Dragon Again is trained by Gary Messenger for owner CL Huckabone of Utica NY. With the 4 wins on the card, Taggart is in 5th place for leading Dash drivers with 27 trips to the winners circle. For full race results, click here. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - Due to the effects of an extremely harsh winter, Monticello Raceway has cancelled harness racing for Wednesday March 3. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Monticello, NY - Due to poor track conditions, Monticello Raceway has canceled harness racing for Tuesday March 2, a decision on Wednesday's card will be made Tuesday afternoon. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Monticello, NY - Due to the continuing thawing and its effect on track condition, Monticello Raceway has cancelled live harness racing for Monday. The track will be accessed Monday afternoon for viability of racing for Tuesday's card. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Monticello, NY - Monticello Raceway has revised its post time for March through October to a 12:10 PM Post Time on all live race days. Longtime Monticello Raceway Simulcast Director, Maureen Flynn noted that "Normally our Spring - Summer Schedule post time was 12:50, we have made adjustments to our post time to better situate ourselves during the afternoon where it is laden with racing product once all the tracks come on line in the near future" by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - Due to continued thawing Monticello Racing has cancelled live harness racing for Thursday, February 25 and Friday, February 26.   by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway          

Monticello, NY - Due to warming temperatures, thawing track conditions and safety concerns for all racing participants, Monticello Raceway was forced to cancel racing for Wednesday February 24. HAMBURG, N.Y. --- After discussions with the horsemen's representatives, racing at Buffalo Raceway for Wednesday (Feb. 24) has been cancelled due to thawing track conditions.   Buffalo Raceway's Chief Operations Officer Jim Mango said of the cancellation, "Who would have thought we'd have 55 degrees and sunshine after the past two weeks of weather we've had?"    Racing is scheduled to return on Saturday at 6 p.m. with an 11-race program set.   For more information including the latest news, race replays, results and entries, go to www.buffaloraceway.com        

Monticello, NY - Due to thawing track conditions, an impending snow storm and the effects on the overall condition of the harness racing surface, Monticello Raceway has cancelled live racing on Wednesday February 17 and Thursday, February 18. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - Due to thawing track conditions Monticello Raceway cancelled live racing after the conclusion of the 3rd race this afternoon. Qualifiers have been cancelled for Wednesday. Live Racing resumes on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 with a 12:25 p.m. post. For race results, click here. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Two minutes seems like such an insignificant amount of time, but, if you’re in the harness racing industry, you know that a lot can happen in those two minutes or less. In those two minutes, it is between the horse and the driver to leave the gate and make it to the wire first. Sometimes, the driver makes the wrong decision, affecting the outcome of the race. But, also, the driver can recover their mistake and still cross the wire in victory. This is the story of one driver, Bruce Aldrich, Jr., who made a mistake at the start of the race, but has come back winning not one, but 8,000 races. However, he is far from crossing the wire, already setting his sights on win number 9,000. Aldrich scored his 8,000th career win at Monticello Raceway on Monday, February 8. Aldrich was born and raised in the harness racing industry. At the age of 15, he took the test for his driver’s license. By 16, he got his Q license. His first win was at Foxboro Raceway with a horse named Ravenous. His career started out really well. Unfortunately, he smoked pot and got into trouble in 1991. Embarrassed and ashamed, he bought a one-way ticket to Las Vegas. In 1998, his parents, Bruce and Linda Aldrich, bailed him out of jail and brought him home. He underwent six months of rehab. Attorney and horseman Joe Faraldo helped him get his license back. In late 1998, Aldrich started driving for his parents. The year 1999 was his first full year of driving again. In 2000, he won comeback driver of the year. In 2016, Aldrich was second in North America in wins. Aldrich said he was very nervous coming back after missing so many years, but he said that he was not treated differently. Everyone was understanding. He is thankful for the trainers that have stood by him and still stand by him today. He is also grateful to owners for giving him a chance with their horses. “I have a lot to be proud of,” Aldrich said. “I am proud of bouncing back, I know a lot of people that didn’t. I am thankful every day. “I am very proud of my best year. I think I ended with around 655 wins. I was second in North America. It was a lot of work, but very enjoyable,” Aldrich recalled. “I am most proud of myself on the track in the way that I behave. My dad always taught me to be respectful of trainers and their horses. I have a good attitude that has helped me the most. It has given me the opportunity to drive for good trainers, as they respect that,” he said. On Monday, Aldrich had accomplished 8,000 wins as a driver.   “My biggest thing is that I had missed 7 years of driving being an idiot. The only person I have to blame is myself,” Aldrich said. “It was my own stupid fault thinking it was the way to go. “I grew up idolizing drivers at Foxboro. I thought it was what you were supposed to do to become a driver since they all did it. I tried it, but there was no excuse for me to keep doing it,” Aldrich continued. “I did it after the races, not before. I could never get in the bike under the influence. I went out partying after. “Looking back, it wasn’t much fun living like that. After I came back, I never got in trouble again.” When asked what he would tell the young drivers who may follow a similar path to him, Aldrich said, “don’t lose something that is a lifetime of enjoyment and a career for one night or one weekend of fun. “It’s a hard question because they have to want to do it themselves. There is absolutely no future in doing it. You have to remember the excitement and highs from racing itself. Put it in perspective and get your priorities straight.” Bruce Aldrich, Jr. has put a lot of hard work and effort into becoming the driver that he is today. He didn’t miss days. He was there every day and every night. “I live by the old cliché – if you do something you love, you’re not working. I love racing. I love the people at the track, getting a new horse in the barn, and driving a new horse for the first time,” Aldrich said. “I have the same passion for it now that I had when I was 22.” Besides the national driving title in 2016, Aldrich began dating owner and trainer, Laura Perino. “Laura saved me. She got me back in the barn and I thank her a lot for being there for me,” Aldrich said. For six to seven years, Aldrich was only driving – Monticello in the afternoon and Saratoga in the evening. But, now, they currently train 8 at a nearby training center and have 6 at home, including broodmares and babies. Perino and Aldrich own most of the 14 together. They bought a house with a farm together in Thompson Ridge. Perino has built everything in it from scratch.   “Some days you don’t want to do farm work after racing. But you look back and you are happy you did it,” Aldrich said. “Laura is the brains behind it. She builds everything. She built me a place to call home. “She is an extremely hard worker, just like my mother was. I am thankful to have her and to be training horses with her.” Despite driving in thousands of races, Aldrich is able to pinpoint a few memorable moments. One is breaking the world record in Saratoga with Royal Heart in 1:50. Another is having the opportunity to drive the world’s most winningest horse, Foiled Again. He has won awards as leading driver at Saratoga and Monticello in multiple years. “I love every track I have raced at, but Monticello has a special part of my heart. It was the track that let me come back, gave me a chance. It will always be at the top for me, my home,” he said. Aldrich says that what he enjoys most in racing is racing his own horses. He said that being able to drive a horse all the time gives him the opportunity to know their strengths and weaknesses. Off the track, he is sports fanatic, rooting for all New England teams. He watches sports and plays golf. “My greatest success is my daughter, Brianna. Having her and Jordan in my life have made everything worth it,” he said. “Seeing him reach this incredible milestone is amazing, but to me it comes as no surprise. Your dedication to your career is one to admire. You put countless hours into our barn then continue all day at the track. I’ve seen you drive up and down the highway day after day to go race,” Laura Perino said. “Your passion for the sport and kind, humble nature just adds to the talent. I am so proud of him and honored to be part of it. I will be looking forward to your 9,000th win! If anyone can get there, you can!” “I know your mom is looking down right now and is extremely proud of you, Bruce,” Bruce Aldrich, Sr. said. “Linda and I are also very proud of you.” “One thing I can say about my dad, is that he works hard. He always has and always will. Congratulations on 8,000 wins,” Brianna Aldrich said. “I am proud of how much he has accomplished, but he needs to always remember: I beat you in that pony race at Carl Allen’s farm when you didn’t cinch your saddle and you fell off,” sister Michelle Hallett said. As for now, it continues to be business as usual for Bruce Aldrich, Jr., driving horses and winning races. By Jessica Hallett, for Harnesslink  

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