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Mertons sweep features

May 03, 2006

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Monday afternoon at Monticello Raceway featured the $15,000 Mares Preferred and the $12,500 winners over pace and when the dust had settled the Merton brothers each came away with a victory.

Mike won the Preferred Pace with Vivacious Raider in a 1:56:1 clocking and younger brother Greg copped the winners over with Bliss N Vinegar in a time of 1:57:4.

According to Mike Merton he was the second choice to drive Vivacious Raider behind Stephane Bouchard, who was initially listed to drive her. However, Bouchard chose Terri Hall instead.

“She (Vivacious Raider) just came off a two minute (2:00:2) win from the eight hole with Bouchard (driving) but when he changed his mind and chose Terri Hall I got the call. I guess I was the back-up man--the saver-- and like Mariano Rivera I got the job done,” he joked.

For the older Merton it was the first time he sat behind the Mike Muller-owned daughter of Keystone Raider and he made the most of it. After they started from post position six and trailed the field to the half way point, Merton angled Vivacious Raider to the outside and they were third -over at that point. But when they reached the backstretch and headed for the three-quarter pole Merton went three deep and Vivacious Raider swept around the field and ranged alongside the pacesetter, A Very Nice Horse (Jimmy Taggart,Jr.) as the two mares paced into the final turn. However, from there it was all Vivacious Raider and she paced away from her competition and cruised to an easy four-length triumph.

Terri Hall got up in the final strides to beat out A Very Nice Horse in a close photo to earn the place money.

Greg Merton and Bliss N Vinegar had a little tougher time in their quest for victory but the Richard Roadarmel-owned daughter of Blissfull Hall was the strong horse in the lane and rallied to a one length victory over Blissful Bambi, who was driven by Greg’s brother, Mike.

Sandtana Score N, (Claude Huckabone III) the Mighty M’s older pacing mare of the year last season, finished third, two lengths behind the winner.

It marked the sixth victory of the season for the rapidly-improving Bliss N Vinegar.

“This is a very nice filly”, Merton said of the 3 year old pacer. She can race in front or off the pace and she improves with every start. Just five starts ago she was racing against non winners of two (pari-mutuel races) and now she’ll be facing the best (fillies and mares) on the grounds.”

(Monticello release)

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