Day At The Track

Monticello seeking 14-year-olds for Au Revoir race

07:40 AM 08 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Whitlock N, harness racing
Whitlock N won last year's Au Revoir race
Photo by Geri Schwarz

MONTICELLO, NY - According to the rules and regulations set forth by the United States Trotting Association, the governing body of the Standardbred sport, less than two percent of all horses racing are 14 year olds and when they become 15 years of age on New Year's Day they can no longer compete regularly in pari-mutuel races.

In what was believed to have been an industry first the race for 14 year olds on the last day of the year back on December 31, 1991, the final chance the senior citizens would have had to compete that year, Monticello Raceway presented a race called "the Au Revior", strictly for 14 year olds which turned out to be a great attraction. That contest was won by a pacer named Searights who was driven to a 2:04 victory by Kyle DiBenedetto.

"Each year since 1991 we have tried to fill the 14 year old race but not always were we successful. The hard part is, and always has been, being able to find enough of those old-timers who are still racing this late in season,." said Eric Warner, Monticello Raceway's Director of Racing.

"Although the Mighty M didn't get a field of 14 years olds together for a race in 2004, they did, however, have a match race between two outstanding 14-year-olds; $412,000 career winner, The Suleiman N; and Troy D, a winner of over $372,000.

The two classy old veterans, who had to hang up their racing shoes the following day, produced a very enjoyable pari-mutuel match trace which nearly ended in a dead-heat. In that betting event, The Sulieman, driven by Zeke Parke, turned back Troy D, handled by Todd Frocione, by just a head in an exciting stretch duel in a mile that was timed in 2:02:4.

On December 29, 2005 Monticello Raceway hosted another race strictly for 14 year old pacers in which the New Zealand- bred Try Kacy N emerged victorious for driver Jimmy Taggart, Jr. in a 2:03:4 clocked mile.

The next Au Revoir was in 2009 when Satin Time N went out a winner in a 1:59.3 clocking. And on December 30, 2010 14 year old Sinbad and Jimmy Marohn, Jr. smoked to an easy 1:58.4 victory, which is the race's standard.

But the most special of the Au Revoir races occurred last year when Whitlock N and driver Kevin Switzer, Jr. turned back the much hyped and race favorite, Tattler's Jet.

To say that the 2012 Au Revoir got plenty of attention would be an understatement. That $5000 race drew a full page story with a photo of Tattler's Jet and his trainer Gene Miller, on the opening page of the New York Times sports section. And the following day there was a follow-up story, also of huge proportions.

The USTA's Ellen Harvey, whose unwavering assistance helped get the story published, said a few days after the event "Never did a $5000 race get so much coverage."

Again this season Monticello Raceway will try to present another race strictly for 14 years olds, which, if it fills, will be raced on Monday afternoon, December 30th .

"Actually our last race card during 2013 is on Tuesday, December 31 but we'll pass on that date since very few participants would appreciate traveling any distances on New Year's Eve," Warner added.

by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway


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