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Decker Jr. wins Monticello "Junior" Free For All

June 19, 2012
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In years past, with the old A-B-C system for classifying horses, the Junior Free For All was actually for the second best class of horses competing at a given racetrack during those years.
 
When Monticello brought back its Junior Free For All on Monday, one day after Father's Day, it wasn't, however, for purposes of classifying horses. The race was for drivers who each carried a Jr. (Junior denoting second generation) after their last names and was meant to pay tribute to all dads, but especially to the fathers of the drivers who raced that afternoon.
 
On that hazy afternoon eight horses and drivers lined up behind the mobile starting and when the event became official, Greg Decker Jr. walked away with the huge trophy after he reined KZ Bezz to an easy 6 1/2-length victory in 1:57.4.
 
Decker, a trainer who drives sparingly, had no trouble getting the 7-year-old Dream Away mare to pace her fastest mile in three years.
 
Decker set sails with KZ Bezz and sent the mare toward the front and they made the top before the quarter mile timer which flashed :28.3 as the trailing horses all found a seat along the pylons. After a short breather Decker and KZ Bezz passed the hal in :59.3 and at that point Billy Parker Jr. was the first to move with Moonlit Tori but the mare couldn't get up alongside the leader. Moonlit Tori was stalled when Kevin Switzer Jr. moved La Pensee Du Jour off the pylons and forced Parker's pacer three wide as the field passed the three quarters in 1:29.
 
When the field headed into the final turn Decker put the pedal to the metal and KZ Bezz began to open up daylight on her competitors. At the head of the stretch Decker's charge was well in command and the only thing in doubt was the margin of victory.
 
At the wire KZ Bezz had 6 1/2 lengths on her nearest rival, Ashley Cruiser, driven by the meet's leading driver, Jimmy Taggart Jr., who had a perfect two-hole trip after yielding the lead near the quarter-mile marker. Third place went to 47-1 shot Mary Lou, capably handled by Fern Paquet Jr. who came in from Tioga Downs just for the race. La Pensee Du Jour faded and finished fourth.
 
"I love that mare and she loves me,” Decker said not jokingly during the winner's circle ceremonies.
 
He then went on to explain that he trained KZ Bezz a few years ago and that she raced well for him and his dad. "Just before we lost her she won her last four starts for us... Greg (Merton) won with her three times and I won once. I always got along good with her.”
 
Now the property of Tom and Susan McGuiness KZ Bezz is trained by Mike McCauley. She paid $6.10 for win.
 
Other drivers who competed in the Junior Free For All included: Jim Doherty Jr.; Jimmy Marohn Jr.; and Mike Marx Jr.
 
After the race all the drivers were vanned to the winners circle where the trophy and blanket were presented. The drivers were each shortly interviewed by Monticello Raceway's publicity chief, John Manzi, who just so happens to be a "Junior" himself. (Monticello)
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