Monticello Raceway on Monday afternoon hosted four $45,000 finals of the Excelsior Series for 2-year-old pacers and trotters. Arguably the most impressive victory was the effort turned in by Spreester when she easily defeated seven other New York-bred pacing fillies by four lengths in 1:57.4.
Jimmy Morrill Jr. was in the sulky when Spreester started from the seven hole but that position was quickly compromised when they left strong and made the front before the quarter mile timer flashed :29.1.
Once on the lead they remained unchallenged as the daughter of American Ideal paced through fractions of :59 and 1:28.2 before Morrill gave her her head and she paced off to an easy victory over Barbuda Babe and Jimmy Meittinis. Carlota Blue Chip was third for Joe Bongiorno.
Trainer Paul Zabielski handed the lines to Morrill and it was the first time that Morrill sat behind the filly who had previously won seven of nine races this year. A relatively small filly Morrill said of her: "She's like a little car, just as handy as can be.”
Although Morrill was impressed with the filly her owner Kimberly Zabielski was more so after she rushed from the paddock to the winner's circle with a smile from ear. While she held Spreester for the photo she said, "We bred her and we're so proud of her .She's our first sires stakes winner.”
In spite of having the seven hole Spreester was sent off as the odds on favorite and paid $3.80 for win.
In the colt division Jason Bartlett and Natural Leda were also teamed for the first time and the talented reinsman took advantage of racing luck and got Natural Leda home first in a 1:57.2 mile.
After a pocket trip though past the half and around the clubhouse turn Bartlett felt his colt was ready for action.
"He was good up the backside and they were working hard in front of me so I moved (to challenge) and we got alongside of Jimmy (Morrill Jr. with Cabbies Delight) and my colt outpaced him to the wire,” Bartlett said of Natural Leda.
Cabbie's Delight held on for second and Hands Off Frank (Jordan Stratton) finished third.
Owned by Deanna Frost, Rick Phillips and John Fielding, Natural Leda returned a $16 win payoff.
John Stark Jr. guided Royal Max to his fourth win in his last five starts when they easily captured the freshman colt trotting division turning back Uproar and driver Chris Lems in a time of 2:01.1 by an eased-up six lengths. Dan Daley got Commissioner Daley up for the show dough.
Royal Max looked mighty impressive in victory and Stark was asked why he wasn't racing in the sire stakes to which he simply said, "He got good late.”
Owned by Ed Smith, Crawford Farms, Jim Giannuzzi and Dave Smith, the son of RC Royalty paid $3.60 for win.
The $45,000 filly final went to Ski To The Max and driver Gates Brunet in 2:02.4 over Trish (Jim Meititnis) and Brookside Lily (Aaron Byron).
"She got good late and I think next year she's sires stakes caliber,” Brunet said of Ski To The Max.
Owned by Ted Gewertz, Debbie Brunet and Jean Brunet, Ski To The Max paid $3.60 for win. (Monticello)