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Amateur Day Dubbed A Success

Published: July 16, 2012 12:43 pm ET

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Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings would have been proud. Leland Stanford would also have joined the throngs. Both turn of the twentieth century millionaires who owned outstanding horses during their era, were also avid amateur drivers and would have cheered the success of Monticello Raceway’s All Amateur Day on Friday, July 13.

For the second consecutive year, the 'Mighty M' has presented a total race card with horses driven by just amateur drivers. Of course the track didn’t so it alone. They had the undivided support of the local horsemen and the 18 participating outstanding amateur drivers.

“It was a win-win situation for everyone; the Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association, the raceway and the amateur movement,” noted Joe Faraldo, who along with Bob Kriveklin and Alan Schwartz spearheaded the day, which, by the way, was added so Monticello Raceway could be part of the national harness racing ‘Back To The Track’ promotion. And by all means it was a resounding success.

For a date that was not congruous to the track's monthly racing schedule, the added 12-race betting program still produced over $417,000 in wagers, and that number was up considerably over last season’s $220,000, which was wagered on the inaugural all- amateur program.

Bolstered by two divisions of ‘the Grand Circuit of Amateur Racing’ --- the Billings Harness Driving Championship Series ---18 competing amateurs ponied up $1,000 which secured each at least four drives on the racing program.

And history was made that afternoon when Alan Schwartz guided six-year-old Cams Card Shark gelding Court Jester to a 1:55.1 triumph, which is a new world record for a horse driven by amateur driver on a half mile track.

“I wasn’t much more than a passenger,” a smiling Schwartz said after his driving victory with Court Jester, which was one of three for the outstanding amateur driver that doubles as president of the local harness horsemen’s association. “It certainly was a as a thrill and the fastest ride I’ve ever had on a half- miler.”

Trained by Pete Pellegrino, Schwartz’s victory behind Court Jester was a laugher, as the horse paced through fractional times of :27, :55.2 and 1:25 before finishing 31 lengths ahead of runner-up, Pull The Tab, driven by John Campagnuolo.

Billings series action --- yes, named for the aforementioned CKG Billings --- saw Bob 'The Rapid Rail' Krivelin score a second series victory with Motown Dreamgirl, and Peter 'The Past President' Gerry get off the schneid and score his first seasonal driving triumph.

Krivelin used the front-end route to turn back Tremendous Hit, driven by Bob 'The Headhunter' Hechkoff . Gerry, on the other hand, sat a two-hole journey and rallied in the deep stretch to collar pacesetter Kriss Legacy and driver Dave 'Steady As' Yarock for a head victory. Krivelin and Motown Dreamgirl stopped the timer in 2:01.3 while Gerry and Drill Sergeant Sam were victorious in a 2:01.2 clocking.

As aforementioned, Schwartz had three winners on the 12-race program, while Krivelin and Gerry had one each. Other amateurs who were victorious included Scott Woogen, Vladimir Melnichenko, Dave Offenberg, Gerry Fielding, John Campagnuolo and Joe Pennacchio.

(With files from Monticello)

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