Day At The Track

Mike Merton inches closer to 2000 wins

03:33 PM 16 May 2012 NZST
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Greg Merton and Pete Pellegrino Wilson Jay N All Tricked Out
Greg Merton and Pete Pellegrino
Geri Schwarz photo
Wilson Jay N
Geri Schwarz photo
All Tricked Out
Geri Schwarz photo

Mike Merton is en route to a harness racing career milestone and after reining All Tricked Out to a gait to wire triumph in a 1:56.3 clocking on Tuesday, May 15 at Monticello Raceway. Now he needs just 13 victories for 2000 career wins.

Owned by Ryan Macedonio and trained by Greg Decker, Jr. the 4-year –old Sir Luck gelding made it two-in-a-row with Merton at the controls although they had to hold off a fast charging Duncan’s Western (Mike Forte) to hold on for a neck victory to return a $3.10 win payoff.

It was the only victory that Merton produced in 10 drives. “I didn’t have much power today and I had a few seconds and thirds but no other winners,” Merton acknowledged. “They tell me as I get closer to 2000 I’ll feel pressure but as of now I don’t have any, at least none that I’m aware of.”

Although Mike Merton didn’t have multiple victories on the Tuesday card, younger brother Greg did. In fact the former two-time Mighty M driving champ scored another hat trick, his seventh in the last nine programs. The ones Greg didn’t have three winners on he had two, as he continues his tear toward the top of the local leaderboard.

Greg won with Top Flight ($13.80) in 1:57.1; Wilson Jay N ($5.10) in 1:59.1 and Art Maker ($6.90) in 1:59.3, the final two triumphs came from the Pete Pellegrino barn.

The Merton-Pellegrino combination have produced multiple winners nearly every time Pellegrino sends out two or more horses from his 35-horse stable, all of which are stabled at a local training farm.

Pellegrino is having another big year and for the second consecutive season he left Florida as the leading trainer at Pompano Park. Last year the affable trainer harnessed 103 winners and he already has 69 this year.

“I’m only racing a small part (of my stable) here at Monticello. Some of my better horses are racing at Yonkers ,the Meadowlands and Pocono Downs mainly because there are no classes for them at Monticello. I wish I had the same percentages there as I do here,” Pellegrino said with a smile.

Thus far at the Mighty M Pellegrino’s horses have started 60 times with 27 wins, 8 seconds and three thirds for a training average of .569.

by John MANZI

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