During the latter part of the 2009 racing season at Monticello Raceway there were no better confrontations than the ones between Keystone Rideau and Southbound Trucker in the weekly pacing features. In the four races in which they went head-to-head each gelding was victorious twice while the other finished second in those events.
Carded to once again confront each other in the $7,700 pacing feature on Tuesday afternoon, that battle never materialized when Southbound Trucker was a late scratch.
Keystone Rideau’s trainer, Mark Ford, had been using Mike Micallef as his Monticello driver but with Micallef not available Ford opted for Kyle DiBenedetto to handle the lines. And that decision worked out best for both concerned especially when Keystone Rideau cruised to a 1:55.4 triumph in 15-degree weather.
Sent off as the odds-on favorite in the race, DiBenedetto sent Keystone Rideau to the lead which they got before the quarter which was paced in :28.3. Comfortable on the front end, DiBenedetto got his pacer by the half in :58.2 without any challenges.
First to move was Jimmy Marohn Jr. with PH Bestman, but they could get no closer than Keystone Rideau’s saddle pad as the two rambled by the three-quarters in 1:27.
Jake Of Diamonds and driver Bruce Aldrich Jr. were biding their time in the two hole and when PH Bestman faded on the final turn Aldrich moved his charge out to challenge. But Keystone Rideau was up to the confrontation and the Western Hanover gelding drew off to a two-length victory.
At the wire Jake Of Diamonds finished second and PH Bestman was a distant third
“This is a nice pony. He’s the best horse I’ve driven in quite a while,” DiBendetto said about Keystone Rideau after the race.
Questioned about taking his pacer to the front when Keystone Rideau had been coming from behind each time Micallef handled him, DiBenedetto was quick to answer: “He finally got an inside position (post four) and being the favorite (in the race) the front end seemed to be the right place to be.”
When asked why he was driving Keystone Rideau this week, DiBenedetto chuckled and said, “Mike (Micallef) picked a great week to go on a cruise.” (Monticello)