Monticello, NY --- If the industry doesn't consider amateur racing an integral part of the current scene, they just need to check the number of races being programmed at many racetracks, especially on the East Coast.
On a pleasant Thursday afternoon (July 12) at Monticello Raceway, amateur racing was front and center on the 10-race betting card with members of three different amateur racing organizations taking seats behind spirited steeds. And when the judges declared the races official, “Joltin' Joe” Pennacchio won a C.K.G. Billings Series trot with Connie Keeper in 2:01.1 and then came back two races later to score a 2:01 trotting triumph in a North American Amateur Drivers Association event behind Cheeky Little Minx. A final amateur contest saw Bob Krivelin and TKR's Metro Specs use the front-end route for a 1:59.2 victory in a Catskill Amateur Club pace.
Even though the program marked the return of two-time National Amateur Driver of the Year “Hurricane Hannah” Miller, the day really belonged to Joe Pennacchio. Although it's still early in the season, the talented driver and multiple-horse owner is leading his competitors for season's-end awards. Currently, his 12 seasonal victories are tops among amateur drivers.
In his first contest of the day, “Joltin' Joe" started from the from pole position with Connie Keeper and was content to hug the pylons in the early going. After the half, he moved his charge to the outside and rallied alongside the leader Wygant Prince, only to wear him down in the deep stretch. Wygant Prince and driver “Coach Paul” Minore held on for second, while Better To Be Lucky finished third for “Tough Tony” Ciuffetelli.
“I followed the leaders and when I moved my mare, she hung as we rounded the (final) turn. But when we headed for home, she began to pull away and we went on the a two-length triumph,” Pennacchio said.
Connie Keeper ($5.10) is owned by Dr. Scott Woogen and trained by Gary Messenger.
Pennacchio's second win was a laugher when his Cheeky Little Minx notched her fourth victory since her purchase in early May. The 6-year-old Lucky Chucky mare ran away and hid from her competition and cruised to an easy 5-1/4 length triumph over Gianni (John Campagnuolo). Woody (Bob Krivelin) garnered the show dough.
“I have 11 horses currently racing with three in the amateur ranks,” said Pennacchio, a retired CEO. “We bought 'Cheeky' at an Ohio sale in early May and she's been stellar for us. This was her fourth victory since we purchased her.”
Cheeky Little Miss ($3.20) is owned by Pennacchio's Joe P Racing and trained by Allen Sisco.
The final amateur contest was in the Catskill Amateur Drivers Pacing Series and when the dust settled, Bob Krivelin had guided TKR's Metro Specs to a gutsy gate-to-wire victory in 1:59.2.
When the gate sprung in that contest, Krivelin sent his pacer to the lead from the pole position, and they had three lengths on the field when they passed by the first stanza. From there, Krivelin had to contend with a parked-out Idontthankyoucan (Bob Davis), who kept unrelinquished pressure on TKR's Metro Specs. They then raced one-two past the half and three-quarters and were still heads apart when they headed for home. At the wire, Krivelin's horse scooted away for a one-length victory over Davis' charge. Hannah Miller finished third with Eagle Artesian. The winner is trained by Bruce Aldrich Sr.
“I really like driving Aldrich's horses because Bruce always has them ready when they hit the racetrack,” Krivelin said after garnering his 217th career victory.
Owned by Woody Hoblitzell, TKR's Metro Specs paid $11.40.