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Yonkers Trio Near Milestones

Published: September 29, 2009 2:07 pm ET

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If your job description is measured in one-mile intervals, it stands to reason there would be several milestones along the way.

Such is the case for three of Yonkers Raceway's most successful drivers, all of whom are approaching rather significant thousand-win plateaus.

Stephane Bouchard, Jeff Gregory and Jim Pantaleano are the trio, moving toward 7,000, 6,000 and 5,000 career victories, respectively.

They concluded Monday night's program needing five (Bouchard), 15 (Gregory) and 19 (Pantaleano) wins to reach their next levels of achievement.

Bouchard, currently fifth in the 2009 local standings with 149 wins, saw his career explode in Westchester. The 42-year-old native of Montreal was Yonkers' dominant force in the first portion of this decade, winning five consecutive driving titles (2003-2007). His $5.3 million in local purses in '07 was a single-season record before Jason Bartlett went by it this season.

Bouchard's overseas driving stops included Italy and Germany, but his highlight came right here, when he guided Napoleon to victory in the wild-scramble 2008 Yonkers Trot.

"It's been a lot of hard work, but also very rewarding," he said. "You really have to have persistence."

Bouchard, with $57.4 million in career purses, ought to know. His first rendezvous with Yonkers came in the mid-1980s, when he was a groom for a Yonkers Trot entrant.

"I was here in 1986 with On The Take," he said. "I was working for Jean-Paul Gauthier."

Like Bouchard, Gregory -- third in local standings in '09 -- has won his home track's marquee trotting event, taking the '02 edition with the gelding Bubba Dunn.

Gregory, a 43-year-old native of upstate Saratoga Springs, learned his craft from his father, a successful western New York-based trainer.

"My father (Gary) taught me the right way to go about the business," Gregory said. "Be a horseman, not just a driver, and that's what I've tried to do.

"I've also been fortunate to drive for a lot of good trainers, and I appreciate being able to sit behind some very good horses. They always make any driver look good."

In addition to his success here, Gregory -- with $51.5 million in career purses -- has been a leading driver on the New York Sire Stakes circuit for more than a decade. He won a state-bred final this past Saturday night with the two-year-old trotting colt Blacktuxwhitesocks.

Bouchard has also hopped aboard the NYSS caravan over the past few seasons, chauffeuring some of the best 'Empire-breds' (Napoleon, among others) across the state.

Pantaleano, a 47-year-old from Cleveland with career purses of more than $23.8 million, made his name at Northfield Park. He had identical 436-win seasons in 2002-03, each time ranking 11th in North America

Pantaleano is ninth in wins locally (119) this season.

"I've been really lucky to make a living doing what I enjoy and with the opportunities I've had," he said. "I never wanted to do anything else."

(With files from Yonkers)


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