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Poree Puts France In The Lead

Published: April 23, 2015 1:13 am ET

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After the first leg of the North America Amateur Drivers Association-sponsored, France vs. USA International Driving Competition, which was held at Yonkers Raceway on Tuesday (April 21), the American team had vaulted to the lead on the strength of a wire-to-wire triumph by America’s Monica Banca.

After the day was over and all involved were breaking bread together, Joe Faraldo, chided to France’s Romain Poree that the U.S. team was ahead by seven points.

“We’re not worried," Poree told Faraldo. "Like good wine, we French get better with age.”

On Wednesday afternoon, April 22 in the second leg of the contest held at Monticello Raceway, Poree, a racing journalist and son of a professional harness trainer, put on a driving clinic winning both races in the France-U.S.A Friendship Competition and with one horse, a pacer by the name of Bay Street, returned a $205.00 win payoff.

It also happened to be the first time that Poree had ever driven a pacer, or as he called him "an ambler.” For the record, only trotters are raced in Europe.

Amateur World Champion in 2010 and French Champion in 2009, Poree was perhaps more at home behind trotter Wheres the Clicker, whom he guided to victory in the other contest event.

But his triumph from the eight-hole with Bay Street had the railbirds' eyes wide open.

After falling into sixth position on the first turn, Poree and Bay Street were content to follow the leaders. They were sixth at the quarter; seventh at the half and eighth and last as they passed the third stanza.

But on the final turn, Poree moved his charge wide and in the lane they came on like gangbusters -- seemingly out of nowhere -- and at the wire they had collared the betting favourite Spencer B and USA teamster Alan Schwartz, in a mile timed in 2:00.2. France's Sophie Blanchetiere, with Caviart Jett, made it a three-horse photo, but they were on the short end and had to settle for third-place.

Bay Street paid a whopping $205.00, $53.00 and $14.00 across the board. The pacer is owned by Ruth Ingham and trained by Vernon James.

In the other division, Poree showed great driving ability when he kept a fractious Wheres The Clicker well off the gate as the field began motion and then eased his charge up to his pole position and they got away trotting.

Despite the horse’s purported shenanigans, Wheres The Clicker went off as the betting favourite in the race.

After a :29.2 first panel, set by Candid Man, driven by fellow Frenchmen Christophe Roszak, the pace slowed as the field approached the halfway point. So Poree moved his trotter first-up and was alongside the leader in a 1:02 half.

Wheres The Clipper cleared Candid Man after the three-quarters, Poree then braced for a hard-charging Chuckie B and driver Alan Schwartz. However, Poree’s charge kicked in a :29.1 final stanza and they cruised to a three-length triumph over Schwartz’s trotter in a time of 2:03.1. Candid Man held on for the show dough.

The winner, owned by Mike Simons and Cary Greenberg, paid $4.80 for win. Simons son Shawn is the trainer of record.

Living up to words expressed by Poree on the first day of the competition, France went from seven behind to lead their American counterparts by seven points after two days were in the books.

And as the point totals were being tallied, Poree turned to Faraldo and said, “I told you we’d get better before it’s over.”

With Thursday relegated to a sight-seeing bus tour of New York City, the final leg of the Friendship Competition will be held at The Meadowlands on Friday (April 24).

(With files from Monticello Raceway)

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