Day At The Track

A lethal combination 'Merton & Pellegrino'

04:50 PM 26 Sep 2012 NZST
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Greg Merton and Pete Pellegrino Court Jester
Greg Merton and Pete Pellegrino - A lethal combination
Court Jester

Although he has been racing in Monticello's high priced harness racing claiming events Court Jester is one of the most prolific pacers that has been competing here this season.

And despite the fact that he’s a claimer he’s among those in the running for Horse of the Year honors here at the Monticello Raceway this season.

After his nine length triumph in a 1:56.2 clocking on July 10th the 6-year-old Cam’s Card Shark gelding went on a tear and strung together eight consecutive victories before moving to Freehold Raceway for a start where he finished second in a $15,000 claiming pace on September 15. But a return to his home track yesterday ( September 25 ) enabled the sidewheeler to return to the winners circle for the ninth time in 15 seasonal outings.

Greg Merton was again at the controls when the pacer held on for a head triumph in a 1:54.3 clocking, which marked the fifth time this year that Court Jester has won in 1:54 and a piece, a rare occurrence for a horse competing here at the Mighty M.

Racing on the front- end as he usually does, Merton had to urge his charge in the final strides to hold off former Monticello Raceway two-time Horse of the Year, Southbound Trucker (Mike Forte), in the final strides.

Trained by relative newcomer Pete Pellegrino ( he had a small stable here a decade or so ago) the Merton-Pellegrino combination has been lethal this year. Pellegrino is the meet’s leading trainer and of the 102 winners that he has harnessed Greg Merton has driven over 95-percent of them.

“I’m glad Pete decided to come back to Monticello this year because for me it’s been a game changer.” Merton said. “My wins for him have helped boost me to the top of the driver’s standings this year.”

by John MANZI

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