Dilemma for Monti?

His star may be too big for Buffalo and Batavia

by John Furgele

For the second consecutive Wednesday, the feature race at Buffalo Raceway will be a $10,000 Open Pace for fillies and mares.  Last week’s winner, Wanna Rock N Roll is entered, looking for another $5,000 first place purse.  She cruised last week with Drew Monti in the bike and Monti will again be there tomorrow night.  Monti is keeping busy as he drives at Buffalo and then heads to the Meadowlands for Friday and Saturday races.  The  lingering question is how much longer until Monti decides to pursue full-time driving at The Big M, or something like a Meadowlands-Yonkers division?  Monti is a Buffalo boy, having just graduated from Canisius College with a degree in Economics.  Buffalo has a way of keeping people home, and Monti can certainly stay busy at both Buffalo Raceway and Batavia Downs, but if he wants to make the money, downstate and Jersey is where it is. It might be hard for him to leave WNY, but if you’ve seen him drive–and win–at The Big M, it is more than clear that the 22-year old is the real deal.

Friday’s feature is an $8,200 trot with a full field of 8.  Osprey Vision has two starts with a place and a show and will be looking to get that first win of the year.  While the purses at Buffalo Raceway will never rival those at Yonkers and The Meadowlands, it gives horses an opportunity to keep running and make some money and with harness racing enjoying solid breeding, Buffalo Raceway provides that opportunity to get in and stay in the game.

There is a difference between Buffalo and Yonkers.  While both are half-mile ovals, the horses at Yonkers routinely break 2:00 for the mile, while those at Buffalo, as well as Batavia, hover there.  Last week, 13-year old Gelato Man won his race at Buffalo Raceway in 2:06. That’s pedestrian, but was the main story the slow time or the fact that a race was won by a 13-year old?  Sure, times are important, but as long as the races are competitive, shouldn’t that matter the most?  The one thing nobody wants to see is a 1:55 horse running against those who run 2:05.  Gelato Man is right where he belongs at Buffalo Raceway, just like Rubber Duck is right where he belongs at Yonkers.

As they say, variety is the spice of life and in harness racing, the theory “horses for courses,” is quite valid.

So, for every Meadowlands, Meadows and Yonkers, there is a Monticello, Buffalo and Batavia and that’s a good thing.

See you at the races!



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