Matt Zuccarello—yes, Zuccarello-- reined the winner of Monticello Raceway's 16th annual Passover Pace on Tuesday afternoon. He hustled his charge Winsmith Molly up to collar the pacesetter--Sam's Fortune and driver Alan Charles--in the final strides and walked away with the box of matzohs.
Zuccarello's mother, the former (Arlene Rosenberg) is Jewish, and because of that Matt was eligible to compete in the race for drivers of Jewish heritage. And for Zuccarello, who's refers to himself as "Pizza- Bagel,”this was his first drive in the event and he made it memorable.
An amateur driver with a provisional license, Zuccarella has recently been bitten by the harness driving bug. Now in his third year of competitive driving Zuccarello has been competing in the various amateur club races on the East Coast as well as in the Billings Series.
"I've won a couple of races before but winning the Passover Pace today was more than I could have asked for,” said Zuccarello, who by trade is a salesman for heart rate monitoring equipment. "I thought there were a couple of horses in there (the race) that would be hard to beat but my mare raced her best race of the season thus far.”
Perhaps Zuccarello was referring to Sams Fortune and Christoffer Bliss who was driven by Austin Siegelman. Both were the 6-5 co-favorites in the race.
When the man said go, Alan Charles sent Sams Fortune to the lead from the pylon position but he relinquished command to Pascal's Wager and Dave Yarock just before the quarter pole but he wasted no time and re-took the lead as the field headed into the turn.
However, when Charles made his quarter pole move Murray Bassen, with Welcome Lover, and Bobby Krivelin with Road Work Ahead, followed suite.
"I was seventh at the quarter and with all the action upfront I moved third- up and as the horses in front of me either cleared or found a spot (along the pylons) I just kept my mare going forward,” Zuccarello related.
Winsmith Molly passed everyone in front of her and then ranged up alongside Sams Fortune at the three quarters. Then, from there to paydirt, a blanket would have covered both pacers right to the finish line.
At the wire Winsmith Molly was a head in front of Sams Fortune while Tidewater Moses and driver Alan Schwartz rallied from far back to finish third and pay $36 for show.
Krivelin's Road Work Ahead finished fourth and fifth place went to 50-1 shot, Five Card Stud driven by Peter Kleinhans. Christoffer Bliss and Siegelman got locked- in from the quarter pole on and they were never a factor and finished sixth. Pascal's Wager was seventh and Welcome Lover brought up the rears.Winsmith Molly is trained by Gary Messenger for owners Brenda Messenger, Dr. Scott Woogen and Phil Shapiro. It was the mare's first win in nine seasonal outings and she returned $15.60, $3.30 and $3.00 across the board. (Monticello)