Day At The Track

Au Revoir race has good chance to fill this year

05:42 AM 21 Nov 2013 NZDT
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Harness racing harness racing
Eric Warner presented the trophy to winning driver Kevin Switzer, Jr. after Whitlock N won the 2012 edition of the Au Revoir
Geri Schwartz
Blanket presentation to Whitlock N in 2012 Au Revoir race
Photo by Geri Schwarz

Monticello Raceway’s Au Revoir, for 14-year-olds only, has always been an interesting event especially since it is the last race of the entrants careers.

However, not always does the Au Revoir get enough entries especially at the end of the racing season. It is rare that during the final year of eligibility that 14 year olds are still on the racetrack since on January 1 of each ensuing year a harness horse turns one year older and when a standardbred  becomes 15 years of age, for all intents and purposes, its racing days are over.

This year the Au Revoir, scheduled for Monday afternoon, December 30th, has a decent chance of filling which has not always been the case over the past few decades.

According to Eric Warner, the tracks director of racing, he has already heard from three owners of the old-timers who would like their pacers to race in the career- ending event.

“I’ve received correspondence from Dave Zuckerman, Mike Kessler and Tim Conkright, all extremely interested in racing their 14-year-olds in our Au Revoir which will bring us closer to having a race again this year,” Warner said. “Of course we’d like a full field but if we get six or seven we’ll go with it (on the betting card).”

The inaugural Au Revoir went to post in 1991 and each year since the Mighty M has tried to fill the 14 year-old race but was not always successful.  The hard part is, and always has been, being able to find enough old-timers who are still racing this late in season.

Over the years only six Au Revoir’s were contested  and one year (2004) a special 14 year old match  race—with pari-mutuel wagering -- was presented instead, which was an extremely exciting race .

Nevertheless, 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, in a time of 2:01.3 over a muddy racetrack.

The 2012 Au Revoir received more media coverage than most million dollar spectacles. That $5000 race drew full page story with a photo of the hyped favorite, Tattler’s Jet and his trainer Gene Miller, on the opening page of their sports section in the New York Times and there was a follow-up story the next day, also of huge proportions.

The U.S. Trotting Association’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.”

“Although we race on New Year’s Eve day, Tuesday, December 31 we scheduled our Au Revoir on December 30th because if we get horses that travel from long distances to compete, and we usually do, we prefer that they don’t have to travel home on New Year’s Eve,” Warner added.

Anyone with a 14 year old standardbred who’d like to have their horse race one final time before it becomes ineligible is asked to please contact Warner in the racing office by calling  845-794-4100ext.557;  or they can call the track’s publicity office at ext. 455.

by John Manzi for Monticello Raceway


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