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Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Way Things Were - Roosevelt International, July 25, 1981

In a start of a new series, I bring you The Way Things Were, a series inspired by a review of a bunch of programs I came across.  The goal is not to lament how far harness racing has fallen, but a review of some of the better days.  Yes, going over these programs will give you an idea as to how old I am, but it is all done in the celebration of our sport.

The Cover Page of the Roosevelt Program
 I must admit, I was not a regular at Roosevelt Raceway.  While not too far mileage-wise, travel from Northern New Jersey to Long Island on a Saturday night was always challenging. 

However, no matter how bad the traffic was, a visits for the Roosevelt International, Challenge Cup were mandatory visits.  One of the things I remember from my days going to Roosevelt was the time I swept the card at Roosevelt, going nine for nine.  And, no, they were not all favorites, one horse who won was named Lynn Forbes and she paid a whopping $32.00.  On the downside, it was the last time I ever won at Roosevelt; not that I didn't go again, it was just the last time I had a winning night at Roosevelt.

As you may know, Roosevelt and Yonkers had their own circuit, alternating meets throughout the year.  While the same drivers drove and horses raced at both tracks, the results were not necessarily the same as Roosevelt had a longer stretch. 

There was one problem with Roosevelt besides the distance; the size of their parking lot; it was HUGE,  Too huge.  The  traffic getting out of Roosevelt was horrible so I tended to leave two races early in an effort to beat the traffic.  The only problem was my sense of direction was so good, I usually spent the last two races in the parking lot trying to find my car to no avail; having to wait until the lot was virtually empty to find my car, sometimes having to take advantage of the track's service of driving people around looking for their car (okay, no one will ever call me Lewis or Clark).

Roosevelt Raceway had a most unique tote board.  Unlike the typical tote board with the odds and money wagered on each horse, the Roosevelt tote board would list the probable win price as well as the lowest and highest possible place and show prices for each horse.  How was wagering those days, the night before the International 12,448 people went through the turnstiles and the total handle (including OTB) was $1,682,913.  This was while the Meadowlands was racing!  

The night before the Roosevelt International there were two eliminations ofr the Dexter Cup, each elimination going for a little over $70,000.  The winners of the two eliminations were Defiant Yankee (Howard Bessinger) in 2:01.3  and Smokin Yankee (Stanley Dancer) in 2:01.3.  These two and six other horses came back for the $232,955.22 final with Defiant Yankee winning by almost two lengths over Snack Bar in 2:01.  Just to give you an idea as to the depth of the 3yo trotting crop that year was in addition to these three horses, Graf Zepplin, Olaf, and Super Juan competed in the Dexter Cup that year

.The best drivers made Yonkers and Roosevelt home.  "The Red Man" Carmine Abbatiello, Rejean Daigneault, Merritt "Butch" Dokey, Buddy Gilmour, Jimmy Marohn, Joe Marsh Jr, John "Sonny" Patterson Jr., Gerald Sarama, and Ted Wing got the bulk of drives but others listed in the standings were Eddie Cobb, Norman Dauplaise, Henri Fiklion, Clint Galbraith, Eldon Harner, Tommy and Billy Haughton, Jon Kopas, Frank and William Popfinger, Ben Steall, and Ben Webster also made their presence known.

Taking a quick look at the program pages brings back a lot of memories to me.  In the evenings' third race, Fortune Richie, a six year old son of Gene Abbe, dirven by Rejean Daigneault was competed.  In the fourth race, a $33,000 claiming event, Mr A A A, a six year old son of Truluck was driven for the Carmine Abbatiello stable by Buddy Gilmour.  In the sixth race, Docs Interpreter was a winner of three straight by Ted Wing after his return from the Meadowlands and I would be doing a disservice if I didn't mention. my name sake Big Al Jay driven by his trainer Richard Starke off a claim the following week.

Before talking about the International, let's mention the horse that raced in the $25,000 Open Handicaps.  As I mentioned, Roosevelt was using the classified system so I will mention the classes of the horses that competed along with the drivers.  The Pacing Open Handicap that night was competed by Trenton Time (A-2, William Haughton); Toy Poodle (A-1, William Herman); Muckalee Strike (A-1, Ted Wing); Secret Service (A-1, James Marohn); Melvins Strike (JFA, Joe Marsh, Jr); Alberton (JFA, John Kopas); Millers Scout (JFA, William Gilmour).  Secret Service took the race in 1:57.3.

The lineup for the Tryotting Open Handicap was High Command (A-2, John Patterson Sr); Surrogate (A-2, John Kopas); Noble Newstime (A-2, Eddie Wheeler); Wonder Child (A-2, Hugh Parshall), Ideal Love (A-1, James Larent); Super Marrty (JFA, Herman Hylkema); Burgomeister (FFA, William Haughton) - scratched; Able Mission (FFA, George Phalen)  The race was won by Wonder Child in a shocker as he paid $30.60 to win.

Here is he field for the $250,000 Roosevelt International competed at a 1 1/4 mile (the  Challenge Cup the following week competed at 1 1/2 miles).

Horton (Canada) was Canadian owned but trained and driven by Clint Galbraith.  He was invited off a three win race streak including a stakes race at Greenwood Raceway.

Jorky (France) trained and driven by Leopold Verroken who was invited off a five rae win streak starting at the Elitlopp. He came into the International off five rae streak including victories in Denmark, France, Holland, and West Germany.  He was the morning line favorite.

Motor Mouth ( United States) was driven by Earl Cruise.  He got into the race by finishing second in the American Trotting Championship which determined the American entrants to the International. 

Parmir Brodde (Sweden) driven and trained by Karl Erik Nilsson reprented Sweden based on his performances against Jorky.  Coming into the race, he had a 1:58.2 mile rate.

Then there was Ideal du Gazeau (France).  The monster of France (second choice) was driven and trained by Euguen Lefevrre and he was clearly the monster of Europe with lifetime earnings of over $1.26 million.  A winner of an elimination of the Elitlopp, he was defeated by Jorky in the Elitlopp final and a race in Copenhagen, hence the co-second favorite status.

Italy was represented by Ceox driven by Vittorio Guzzinati who raced almost primarily in Italy.  Hus last race coming into the international was a victory in Trieste in a mile rate of 2:03.

Arin Baritono represented Argentina.  The Argentine bred horse has been doing his racing in the United States primarily at Pompano and was driven by George Hap Jr.  Admittedly he had done little in the United States but had one nine of ten races in Argentina as a two year old. 

 So How did the 1981 International unfold?  The late Jack E Lee gives us the call.

Ideal du Gazeau was the winner for the mile and the quarter in a time of 2:32.3 (:31.3, 1:02.2, 1;32.3, 2:02.4) holding off fellow French horse Jorky with Sweden's Pamir Broddee finishing third.

If you noticed the replay, you can see how exciting racing over the half mile can be with horses racing more like they did in the International.

There were a few more internationls held between Roosevelt and Yonkers which then cancelled the races due to financial concerns.  It would be great if someone could find a way to bring back international racing to the states.        

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Larente's trotter's name was Idle Love, not Ideal Love.