Veteran Pacers On Display At Monticello

Monticello Retirement 2023
Published: December 14, 2023 08:58 pm EST

The Au Revoir Pace for 14-year-old senior pacers headlined the Thursday (Dec. 14) afternoon card at Monticello Raceway.

Rozewood (Thomas Merton) pocketed the victory by three-quarters of a length in 1:59.1 for trainer/owner Tiffany Barrett. Southern Swan (Jim Taggart Jr.) finished second and All About Rusty (Adam Moeykens) rounded out the top three.

Rozewood, leaving from post three in the $6,000 feature pace, is a 14-year-old gelding by Whosusboy, out of Sexy Hexi. Bred by Barrett, Rozewood Hanover made 459 trips to the track with a record of 42-52-67 and $251,469 earned. He raced primarily at Monticello and the win on Thursday pushed his seasonal tally to five wins. He was 10 when he took his career mark of 1:51.4 at Tioga Downs.

"He is homebred and raised," said Barrett. "He is the heart of the barn. He can be a bit of a grouch. He likes to attack people, come out with his teeth open. For the most part, he's a great horse to be around. He enjoys his time out with the other guys. In the morning if he doesn't go out first or second, he's kicking up a storm yelling at me. He loves being outside. He just loves life and I couldn't ask for a better horse.

"He's retiring and staying with me. They don't leave. They stay with me. I kept his mother up until this year. It's like getting rid of your children."

On the rail, grabbing the nickel, was Penneys Spirit with trainer Mckenzie Sowers holding the lines. Penneys Spirit (sired by Ring Of Life) is owned by Sowers as he boasts $222,590 in career earnings from a record of 60-48-44 in 386 starts. He earned his mark of 1:54 at Windsor, Maine.

"We actually got him as a yearling," said Sowers. "We picked him up. We bought him from Carl and Beverly Penney in Maine. My family, my dad and I went to go pick him up and we said where is he? It was dark. They pointed to this field. A yearling, still with his mom. We herded him into the trailer and it took five of us to get a halter on. 

"He's come a long way. He missed his two-year-old year because he was so far behind. He never raced any of the major stakes, he raced the fairs, but made over $220,000. He's very sweet, but with other horses not so much. He'll go after other horses. For his humans, he's very sweet.

"We will just ride him and keep him in training. He doesn't like other horses so we can't just turn him out with anyone or give him a home. We're going to keep him and maybe race some amateurs at 15. We don't know. Penney likes work. He'll tell us when he's done."

Southern Swan and Jim Taggart Jr. set up in post two for trainer Shane Taggart. The pair set the tempo for the mile and were just bested at the wire. Owned by Domenic Longobardi, Southern Swan (sired by Blissful Hall) made an even 300 starts with a record of 49-49-34 and $206,880 earned. At the age of eight, he took his new mark of 1:53 at Plainridge Park. 

"We have had him for seven years," said Amy Taggart. "His owner claimed him on the day of his high school graduation. The year before his last start at Saratoga, he shattered his hind left leg. He has 27 screws in that hind left leg and Spagnola rehabbed him and brought him back. Our owner waited until the day he graduated high school and claimed him. We have had him ever since.

"You would never know about the break, though. He's a grump in the barn. He doesn't like men. He likes Shane. We do things his way. He isn't bad, he just likes things his way," continued Taggart. "He has a goat, his goat lives with him.

"He had a couple options for retirement. He's going to live near Saratoga near the Mass line. We know the woman from Plainridge. She started a rehab program and breaks them and then places them. I think she's keeping him.

"It's going to be hard for him to not be there. He's not leaving right away, he's going to Maine for the retirement ceremony."

From post four, Coach Cal is owned and trained by Billy Parker Jr. Michael Merton held the lines for the final trip around the Mighty M oval and the pair finished fourth. Thursday's start was career start number 400 for the gelded son of Camluck and the Artsplace mare False Alert. He has a career record of 59-50-61 with $616,323 earned. His mark of 1:51.4 was taken as a seven-year-old at Pocono Downs. Coach Cal has been under the care of the Parker family for about a year and a half. 

"He gets home sick. When he leaves home and comes to the track, he gets really grumpy, but when he goes home he is really happy. He races, but I don't think he loves it that much," said Brandon Parker. "I'm just happy to get him to this spot to end his career and he does like to ride. 

"He's going to be a police horse. Someone is coming to look at him to be a police horse."

"Before we got him, there was a young girl who would ride him around the farm," added Billy Parker Jr.

"You can just hook the lead chains to him, get on and just go," said Brandon Parker.

On May 11 at Monticello, the father-son team of trainer Billy Parker Jr. and driver Brandon Parker brought home two winners: 14-year-old Coach Cal and their second veteran pacer, Gypsy Leather. Gypsy Leather (406: 61-55-55; $531,290; 1:51.1) was due to retire Thursday, too, but was retired early after an injury during the summer. His new home was found with former connections who followed him throughout his career.

Post five starter All About Rusty was ironically also a winner on May 11 and also raced in Thursday's retirement pace. Driver Adam Moeykens and trainer/owner Anthony Regina teamed up for the final trip around the track. The veteran son of Real Artist made 418 career starts with a record of 48-55-56 and $367,346 banked. His career mark of 1:50.4 was taken at Pocono Downs at the age of eight.

"We got him two and a half years ago. He's good in the barn," said Anthony Regina Sr.. "He has to have bananas every day. Has to have them. He'll cause a ruckus. He eats nicker makers and carrots, but has to have his bananas. He's good to take care of. Happy horse.

"He's going to be another pet to my son like the other ones. Two are still in the barn; they are 16. One we sent to Purple Haze and took care of him that way. They are well taken care of. We treat them like family."

Completing the field in post six was Astor, driven by Bruce Aldrich Jr. for trainer David Wiskow. The veteran Camluck gelding is owned by Diane Smith. He has $406,143 earned from a record of 57-59-41 in 381 starts. He earned his 1:49.4 mark at Woodbine Mohawk Park at the age of four.

"I claimed him because it was Vinny Fusco's horse and it was his daughter's horse and I wanted to make sure he had a good home when he retired," explained Wiskow. "I had him about six years ago, I raced him at Tioga. He's been a good old horse and I just wanted to make sure when he was done racing he got the proper care.

"He's got an attitude in the barn. He'll charge the gate and he'll let you know he's there. I don't know how his riding adventures will turn out. He's got a home in Allentown, New Jersey. I'm going to leave him at the farm at Big Z for about a month and then bring him down there. I have about four others there including Bang Bang Kiss Kiss, a real good horse for us, and a few others. That's where he's going.

"It's about five acres. It's a nice place. I wanted to make sure he got a good home. Vinny was a good friend of mine."

All of the photos from the card will be available here.

(Submitted on behalf of the horsepeople at Monticello Raceway)

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