Cedric Washington has been a fixture at Monticello Raceway and over the years the affable 47-year-old African-American driver has reined 1,773 winners, a number that any driver would be proud to sport.
When the Mighty M presents its 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Pace on Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, Washington will headline the event, especially since he has won two previous Dr. King Paces. He won the inaugural in 2001 with Cran Meadow Kalie in 2:03 and then again in 2003 with Fancy BG in 2:06 and over the years he has been on the board in many other Dr. King races.
With his dad, General “Bubba” Washington a career horseman, it was only natural that Cedric would become involved in harness racing though his participation in the sport was slow in coming.
“After I graduated high school I got more involved in racing and began working for Frank Yanoti and it was Yanoti, my dad, and Carmine Macedonio who helped me get my driving license in the early 80s,” Washington recalled.
Washington is quick to credit trainer Peter Stratton for giving him a chance to drive regularly back in the mid 1980s.
"Pete was real good to me and let me drive most of his stock back then. It was a great opportunity for me,” he said.
Washington first cracked the 100-win plateau during the 1992 season when he reined 138 winners. He won 102 times in 1994 and then from 1998 through 2003 Washington crossed the century mark each year with 141 winners in 2000 his best output to date.
Though the names were hard to recall he was quick to point out that he was proud of his New York Sire Stakes trotting victory five or six years ago here at Monticello Raceway and of the many late closers he has won over the years.
Washington also was instrumental with helping the Mighty M publicity department produce its first race for African-American drivers back in 2001.
“I worked with John Manzi who was a little leery in putting the race together because he didn’t want to offend anyone, but he wanted to showcase the talents of African-American drivers, many of whom never got a chance to drive competitively, “Washington said. “But the Dr. King Pace has been very successful and has become an annual event (at the Mighty M) on or around the birthday of the great civil rights leader and I’m proud to have won that race two times.” (Monticello)