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The weather may have been cold and windy, but Greg Merton was not deterred and had the hot hand and drove 4 harness racing winners on Thursday January 16 at Monticello Raceway. Fly'N With Royalty was Merton's first winner of the card in the 3rd race, the Thomas Milici trained son of Panspacificflight scored a wire to wire 3 length win 1:59.2 - $3.70 for his second win of the young season. Merton would catch fire and won the cards final 3 races, Brookstone from post 3 won by a neck over Victory At Last in 2:01.2 - $9.90 for trainer David Dziengiel, next up came the out of town invader Mansome who won in a wire to wire 5 length romp in 2:00.4 - $3.00 for Elisha Lafreniere. In the last race Tinos Pulse starting from the rail, lead every step of the way to win by 2 for trainer Dawn DeVaux in from the rail in 2:02.3 The early season leading dash driver is James Devaux with 13 wins, Greg's 4 wins on the afternoon has him in second place with 12 wins. Monticello Raceway will be dark in Monday January 20th for Martin Luther King Day and will resume live racing on Tuesday January 21 with a 12:25 post time by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Monticello, NY - Harness racing driver Jim Devaux owned the second half of the harness racing card at Monticello Raceway Thursday by sweeping the programs final five races. The win skein started in the fifth race aboard Rockme Socks Off who scored a pocket trip to win by a neck in 1:58- $7.90 from post 4 for his first win of the season for trainer Elisha Lafreniere and owner Wilda Mcdanel. Runhappy Ten was next up, who scored in a 6 length romp pacing the fastest mile of the afternoon in 1:55.4 and paid a paltry $2.90 win pari mutual. The 4 year old gelding by Pet Rock is trained and co owned by Joseph Skowyra and Mo Coo Inc. Devaux and Skowyra teamed up again in the next race with Big Is Better, who scored a 2 length win in 1:57.4 and paid $5.70. Win #4 came aboard Adorabella from the rail in another romp, winning by 9 lengths for trainer Jody Riedel for his first win of the 2020 season in 1:59.1 - $2.50. Devaux capped of the afternoon with Master Faster from post position 4 to score a wire to wire win by 3 lengths in 1:58.2, pacing his last quarter in 28.4 for trainer Jimmy Nickerson. Live racing resumes Monday January 13 with a 12:25 Post Time. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway          

Monticello NY - The curtain fell on the 2019 harness racing season at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon December 31 and between the races the awards for leading trainer and driver were handed out. Trainer Gary Messenger won honors for leading dash winning trainers and Jim Taggart Jr. took top honors for leading dash winning drivers. The relationship of Gary Messenger and Jim Taggart Jr has been very prolific since Taggart became the main driver for the Gary Messenger Stables 10 years ago. The duo was responsible for the 2018 Monticello Raceway Horse of the Year, Warrawee Preferred, and many other top performers over the years. Both horseman has been mainstays at Monticello for decades, Messenger a native of Monticello NY and the 49-year-old Taggart hails from nearby Honesdale, PA. Gary Messenger harnessed 488 starters over the course of the 2019 season at Monticello Raceway with 113 winners with a UDRS of .383 and a winning percentage of a respectable 23%. His starters earned $440,571 for the barn with earnings per start of $903. As a trainer with over 500 starts, Messenger ranked 12th in the nation for trainers with over 500 starts with 153 wins and stable earnings of $797,354. James Doherty Jr finished in second place with 95 wins trailed by former leading trainer Robert Lounsbury with 85 wins Jim Taggart Jr. took top honors for leading dash winning driver with 254 wins, Michael Merton was second with 211 and former multiple dash winner Monticello Raceway driver Bruce Aldrich was 3rd with a win tally of 208. Last season Jim Taggart finished 5th with 168 wins. Taggart's mounts earned $893,141 for the year Also on the card were 4 horses making their final lifetime start. The 14 year olds Crypto Man, My Cool Breeze, Briars Creeks Angel and Elias Joy. The 11 race card produced the 2nd highest handle of the year with $810,575 wagered with a per race average of $73,688. Live racing will resume on Thursday Jan 2 with post time at 12:20, Monticello will also offer live racing on Friday January 3. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Monticello, NY - On Friday December 27, at Monticello Raceway on a track listed as good, a field of 5 pacers lined up behind the starting gate for the last time in their career in the Au Revior $5,000 Invitational Pace. For almost a decade and a half, these 5 equine iron geldings have been behind the starting gate almost 1600 times in their combined careers. When the gate left, the betting favorite FLEM N EM N starting from post position. 5 and driver Jim DeVaux were first away followed by Lucky Man right along side, DeVaux worked his mount hard to get the front keeping Lucky Man at bay, they zipped the opening quarter in 27.3, Driver Jennifer Lappe and Lucky Man were parked and had no choice and was forced to tuck in the 3 hole well past the paddock turn. The Saratoga invader FLEM N EM M took the field to the half in 57.3, at this point Lappe pulled the right line for the last time and started the outer flow and was first over and bid his time as the leader FLEM N EM N hit the the ¾ in 1:27.3, with Lucky Man parked on the outside. In the paddock turn Lucky Man, urged on by Lappe, exploded in a matter of strides and had an instant three length lead on the field at the head of the stretch. The usually reserve Lappe savored the moment and pumped her arm in the air before the wire, reminiscent of the Stanley Dancer moment with Duenna in the Hambletonian, the duo hit the wire in 1:57.2 drawing off by 5 lengths, pacing their last quarter in 29.4. FLEM N EM N finished second Lightning Raider N third, the winner paid a $6.40 for win. It was his 9th win of the season and has banked over $32,000 in 2019, Christopher Bliss was a late scratch. Lucky Man's career stats and overall body of work is impressive, the $90,000 Camluck yearling purchase amassed lifetime earning of $1.2 million with a lifetime mark of 1:49.1 as a 5 year old at Mohawk Raceway with 60 career wins, he is co owned by trainer-driver Jennifer Lappe and Patrick Laiso. After the winner circle presentation, and emotional Lappe paid homage to her steed and unhooked the sulky and walked the gutsy campaigner Lucky Man back to the paddock for the last time to enjoy the moment amid the spattering of claps for the classy duo from those admirers on the racing apron that braved the elements to bid him farewell. Cool him out good, this last time. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway          

Monticello Raceway will present the Au Revoir Invitational Pace on Friday December 27. Race Secretary Eric Warner was able to secure six older harness racing pacers from all over the state of New York for this even which will be racing for a purse of $5,000. The 6 hardened campaigners, all geldings collectively have combined earnings of over $2,364,887 and 292 trips to the winner's circle. The fastest and richest is Lucky Man, a former  $90,000 yearling has life time earning of $1,2781000 and a lifetime mark of 1:49.1 taken when he was a 5-year-old at Mohawk Raceway. The son of Camluck is still on top of his game, this season he scored at Vernon Downs in 1:52.2 with 8 trips to the winner's circle for trainer-driver Jennifer Lappe. Lucky Man has drawn post position 6. The morning line favorite is the Saratoga invader Flem N Em N, a model of consistency this year he has finished 2nd 13 times with earning this season of $35,320 and a mark of 1:52.4, Jim DeVaux will drive the son of Courage Under Fire for trainer Gary Levine. The Batavia based Lightning Raider has drawn post 6 for trainer Gerry Sarama. In 41 starts this season he has entered the winners circle 7 times, top Monticello Raceway reinsman Bruce Aldrich Jr. will drive the son of Christian Cullen. Rounding out the field is Yankee Devil (PP3) and 2 Monticello Raceway horses Christoffer Bliss (PP1)and Mercurio N (PP2) The event is carded as Race 8 on the 11 race program with post time at 12:20. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway    

Monticello, NY - A 14-year-old horse is comparable in age to that of a 45 ½ year old human, and behind the harness racing starting gate the 14-year-old Old Elias Joy looked racy and eager to go, certainly not the demeanor you would expect from a rugged old campaigner on the cusp of beginning retirement. Sent off as the prohibitive favorite of 1/5 at Monticello Raceway Monday afternoon and starting from the rail for driver 21-year-old Hunter Oaks, the old timer Elias Joy worked smarter and not harder as he was content to sit the packet as Justin Huckabone Jr. cut the mile with the young whipper snapper RC'S Ready thorough fractions of 29.3,1:02.1, and 1:33.3, Elias Joy dug deep and unleashed a wicked last quarter of 28.3 to score by a scant nose in 2:04.2 and paid $2.40 to win. The 14-year son of Floritas Hero has not slowed down in his old age, the rugged gelding made 42 starts in this, his final season, in his last 8 starts he has amassed 6 wins and finished 3rd twice. His season tally of 18 wins earns him the title of the leading older trotter in the nation with wins and is the second winningest horse at Monticello Raceway this season. His overall body of work is impressive, 276 life time starts 62 wins, 26 place finishes and 39 times finishing 3rd and $255,000 in lifetime earnings and more impressively is the almost $40,000 he earned in his final year of eligibility. Elias Joy is owned by Andrew J. Gannon of Hamburg NY and is trained by Robert Lounsbury and was driven to victory by Hunter Oakes. He was bred by Gestut Prieros of Germany. After the win, Elias Joy was greeted by well-wishers in the winner's circle for a blanket presentation. $740,036 was wagered on the 11 race card on Monday December 23 an average of over $67,000 per race. Monticello Raceway will be dark on Christmas Day but will resume live racing and full card Simulcasting on Thursday December 26 and 27th with a 12:20 Post Time. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - While the weather was cold, wet and nasty Tuesday afternoon at Monticello Raceway, Bruce Aldrich Jr. was red hot and as he drove five harness racing winners on the 10 race card. Bruce started the rally early in the first race with Tweedledtweedledum, the Bo Sower's trainee started from post 6 and scored in 2:02 - paying $8.20 to win. Aldrich went on a tear in race 3 and won the next 3 races in a row. Scootin For Joy notched her 5th seasonal win for trainer Jim Doherty Jr in 2:02.3 - $4.50. Next up was Zone Blitz, the former Ron Burke trainee won in 1:59.3 - $10.60. Carters Casper won his 8th race of the season in 1:57.1, the fastest mile of the day on a track rated sloppy for trainer Al Annunziata. The fifth win of the afternoon cam in the last race were he scored a wire to wire victory with Future Life in 2:02.4, the win also gave 2nd leading trainer Jim Doherty Jr. a training double on the afternoon. The five wins on the afternoon gives Aldrich 193 wins at Monticello Raceway this season which puts him in 3rd place for leading dash winners behind Jim Taggart Jr. and Michael Merton. by Shawn Wiles, for Montiello Raceway

Goshen, NY - A few seats still remain for the Monticello - Goshen Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association's 61st annual awards banquet, featuring Mickey Burke as the apex harness racing honoree. The banquet takes place on Sunday, December 15 at The Fountains at Wallkill Golf Club, Middletown, NY Banquet chairman Shawn Wiles noted, "We have enjoyed one our greatest responses in recent memory, bolstered largely in part to this year's deserving and popular slate of honorees." With 150 tickets sold, so far, we have been fortunate enough to add another table to the banquet hall set up. The schedule for this year's festivities is as follows: Doors Open with a Cocktail Hour and Open Bar starting at 6 p.m. Banquet seating begins at 7 p.m. with the horse awards being presented. Dinner served at 8 p.m., followed by the primary honorees being presented their individual awards. The activities of the Monticello-Goshen chapter, largely through advertising sales and banquet participation, have allowed the organization to make generous annual donations to both the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, as well as Goshen Historic Track. In addition to the year-end awards for horses and horse people from the local tracks, the Monticello-Goshen chapter will also honor Mickey Burke (Lifetime Achievement Award); Noelle Duspiva (Excelsior Award); Barbara Martinez (Amy Bull Crist Distinguished Service Award); Larry Lederman (John Gilmour Good Guy Award); Purple Haze Stable (Breeders Award); Dave Brower (Phil Pines Award); Tony Verruso (Amateur Driver); Joe Chindano, Jr. (Rising Star), etc. Tickets for the gala event are still available and can be reserved by contacting Shawn Wiles at (845) 794-4100 extension 458 or Email: swiles@empireresorts.com, or contact Chris Tully at (845) 807-7538 or Email: tullytrot@yahoo.com. by Chris Tully, for Monticello-Goshen USHWA  

Monticello, NY - The odds are long these days that Standardbred's are still harness racing at the age of 14, this trait is a credit and testament to the durability and hardiness of the Standardbred. On January 1, 14 year olds will be forced into mandatory retirement, as Standardbreds cannot race in pari mutual events over the age of 14. Former Monticello Raceway Publicity guru John Manzi started this event in 1991, originally called the "Clash of the Senior Titans" its most famous dash of the seniors was in 2004 when The Suleiman nosed out Troy D in 2:02.4. Monticello Raceway is seeking additional entries and will try and fill both the Au Revoir Trot & Pace on December 27, the purse for each race will be $5,000, this is an invitational event. This year Monticello Raceway has a handful of aged trotting campaigners that have been competing at a high level throughout their last year of eligibility, Elias Joy, My Cool Breeze and Crypto Man. Between the trio they have combined lifetime starts of over 1010, 125 wins and over $850,000 in lifetime earnings. "After a long hiatus of this event due to the lack of entries, I think we will be able to conduct the race this year, I have been receiving calls from numerous horsemen inquiring about the event," said Eric Warner, longtime Monticello Raceway Race Secretary. Horsemen interesting in participating in these event should contact Eric Warner at (845) 794 4100 X 557 or ewarner@empireresorts.com for details. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Due to the severe winter storm impacting the area and hazardous driving conditions for horsemen, patrons and employees, live harness racing and simulcasting is cancelled for Monday December 2.   Thursdays draw will be held on Tuesday, December 3, box closes at 9am.   Live Racing and Simulcasting will resume on Tuesday December 3, - 12:25 Post Time.     Shawn Wiles Director of Racing & Facilities Monticello, NY 12701

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday we surround ourselves with friends and family and take a moment and reflect what we have to be thankful for, this Thanksgiving.  Brandon Parker has much to be thankful for, on Tuesday November 26, the 20 year old Parker scored a harness racing hat trick at Monticello Raceway, it seemed like just yesterday that Brandon won his first pari mutual win. Brandon went down the road in the third race with Road Untraveled and scored a wire to wire 1 length win 1:57.1 and returned a $3.70-win ticket. The 11-year-old Grinfromeartoear gelding notched his 13 win of the 2019 season for trainer David Dziengiel. The classy campaigner Road Untraveled has lifetime earnings of $425,626 and a lifetime record of 1:49.1 Brandon was content to sit the pocket with Mom's Crossroads while Feel The Need A and Hunter Oaks cut the mile in race 5, Mom's Crossroads uncorked a final quarter in 28.4 to overtake pacesetter Feel The Need A to prevail in 1:56, the fastest mile of the day. Mom's Crossroads is owned and trained by Brandon's father Billy "Zeke" Parker. The new acquisition to the barn has won his last 2 out pf 3 starts after being claimed. The Allamerican Native 8-year-old gelding paid $8.80. The driving triple was capped when Parker scored with the longest shot on the board, the 21-1 Jasmine Ivy in 1:59.1 and paid $45.60 for win. The Raheim Strong trainee sat the 2 hole behind as the odds on favorite Future Life who cut the mile, Jasmine Ivy has enough in the tank to overtake Future Life at the wire. The 20-year-old Brandon Parker is in 6th place for leading Monticello Raceway Dash winners with 77 wins, his mounts have earned $398,718 thus far this season. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

The Monticello Harness Horseman's Association (MHHA) and the North American Amateurs Drivers Association (NAADA) continued their longstanding annual harness racing tradition by making a donation to the Sullivan County Federation of the Homeless on Veterans Day at Monticello Raceway on Monday November 11. In the winner's Circle after the 3rd race, Kathy Kreiter, director and program administrator of the Sullivan County Federation of the Homeless was presented with 2 checks, each worth $1,000 on behalf of the MHHA and NAADA. Alan Schwartz, President of the MHHA, and his wife Alicia were on hand to make the presentation to Kreiter. Alan Schwartz himself a former Veteran said "We are happy to help support those citizens of the community that need assistance at this time of year" Jim Taggart Jr. scored with N Make it Snappy in the Food Bank Presentation Race, the Steve Moore trained mare by Dream Away tripped the timer in 2:00.3 and notched her 6 win of the season. Taggart would wind up winning 3 races on the Veterans Day Card increasing his lead over Michael Merton. Taggart is in first place with 220 wins over Merton's 211. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - Over the years the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) has donated to worthy charities and this year will be no exception. On Veterans Day Monday November 11, the Monticello Raceway Harness Horseman's Association (MHHA) and the North American Amateur Drivers Association (NAADA) will make a donation to the Sullivan County Veterans Food Pantry in the amount of $1,000 in the winner's circle. Each year NAADA makes its own substantial donations to charities like Juvenile Diabetes and the Susan B Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, just to mention a few. Monies raised for the donations come from membership and starting fees paid by the clubs participating drivers. MHHA President Alan Schwartz, a former US Marine are urging those who plan on attending the afternoon's race card to please bring along a non-perishable food item which will then be delivered to the veteran's food pantry. "We have planned our own special tribute for those who served our country with honor by staging this Amateur Driving Challenge for veterans of our armed forces who are currently amateur drivers," said Schwartz Post Time is 12:25. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY  - For generations, Monticello Raceway has been the proving ground for many prominent harness racing drivers paying their dues and learning the ropes and breaking into the business, Cat Manzi, Ron Pierce, George Brennan, to name just a few. Add Cory Stratton to the list of the new generation following the exact footsteps of his older brother Jordan Stratton. Cory has been quietly plying his trade on the famed Catskill Mountain oval, at first the drives came slowly for the 27-year-old Stratton, but as time went on his talent became apparent which is evident by the amount of horses that trainers put him on to drive. On Tuesday November 5, Cory Stratton drove 3 winners on the card, the first trip to the winner's circle was aboard Future Life in 1:58.2 - $3.20 for trainer and co-owner Jim Doherty Jr. Future Life a 10 YO mare by Life Sign earned her 10th win in 2019 for owners Jim Doherty Jr and Chris Tully with seasonal earnings of $25,000. Never Tell would account for win #2, the Dan Gill trained son of Southwind Lustre notched his 3rd seasonal wins scoring in 2:01 - $10.00 for owner and longtime Monticello Raceway patron Adam Friedland. Grand Priority gave Stratton the driving triple who scored from post 3, in the 7th race, the Nicholas Devita trainee won his 7 win of the season in 1:56.2 - $4.60, the Western Ideal gelding broke the $100,000 mark in lifetime earnings. Cory is currently in 8th place for leading dash winner drivers at Monticello Raceway with 66 wins and is within striking distance of overtaking Brandon Parker and John Desimone Jr. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway

Monticello, NY - To find any 14-year horses racing these days is rare in harness racing, but on Tuesday afternoon at Monticello Raeway in the 4th race there were three 14 year olds in the same race. At the finish line was Elias Joy first, the came, My Cool Breeze to be second and third was Crypto Man. All of them 14 years old. The winner Elias Joy notched his 12 win of the season for trainer Robert Lounsbury as he trotted to a 4 length victory in 2:00.4 and returned $2.60 to win with Hunter Oaks in the bike. The son of Floritas Hero is not showing any signs of slowing down this year, with 34 starts under his belt and over $27,000 in seasonal earnings. Elias Joy is in 4th place with the most wins at Monticello Raceway this year. The three aged trotting warriors have combined lifetime stats of 1008 starts, 125 wins and over $846,000 in earnings. Crypto Man was driven by Bruce Aldrich Jr. and is trained and owned by David Dziengiel, a son of Malabar Man is out of the top producer Nervey's Taurus. My Cool Breeze is trained by Dawn DeVaux and is owned by her daughter Nicole and was driven by Mike Merton. In the next race Mike Merton went down on the track when Volare TZ made a nasty break going into the first turn and was out of control, Merton sustained a broken collar bone. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

Monticello, NY - On Wednesday afternoon October 16, harness racing driver Jim Taggart Jr won 4 races on a soggy afternoon at the famed Catskill Mountains oval. Taggart wasted no time in getting on the board as he scored a 2 length victory in the first race with Needles And Pins in 1:57.3 ($2.90) for trainer Anthony Regina, giving the aged mare by Village Jove her 7th win of the year. Next up in race 6 was Coco Hall in 2:01.1 ($3.50) owned by Brenda Messenger and Scott Woogen for trainer Gary Messenger, the 5-year-old Amigo Hall mare has won 4 of her last 6 outings. Keystone Honor gave Taggart his 3rd win, the Dennis Laterza trained son of Bettors Delight won by 5 lengths in 1:57.2 and returned $10.60. In the last race is was Angelic Speed in 2:04.1 ($2.20) the win gave Gary Messenger a training double on the card. The four wins on the card helped Taggart boost his seasonal win tally to 198 wins for the year, gaining ground on leading dash winner Michael Merton with 207. by Shawn Wiles, for Monticello Raceway  

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