Sardella’s Column

P H Supercam Soars In The Gerrity Memorial Pace

 

The Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace launched in 2009 at Saratoga Casino and Raceway in memory of a man who did so much for the sport of harness racing throughout his life. The memorial was created as a pacing series to honor Joe Gerrity Jr. and his contributions to harness racing and particularly to Saratoga Raceway. A highly respected leader, Gerrity was an incredible proponent for racing at Saratoga and for the horse racing industry in general. He was involved in nearly every facet of the sport at some point in his career. He was a breeder, a driver and eventually was named Chairman of the Board of Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc (now Saratoga Casino and Raceway) in 1987. Gerrity was instrumental in the expansion of the facility and the installations of the video gaming machines, even funding part of the project himself. Gerrity passed away in 2005 and the track instituted a series in his honor a few years later. Following four years of being a three week long pacing series, the Gerrity was changed to a single race, a free-for-all pace that would attract some of the top horses in the northeast. The seventh installment of the Gerrity Memorial highlighted an action-packed Saturday night at the Spa. 

             With the purchase of Saturday night’s program, fans came away with a commemorative t-shirt which has been a tradition on Gerrity night since it started in ’09. Fans were treated to free Stewart’s ice cream cones courtesy of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and got a taste of “across the street” as legendary race caller Tom Durkin was on hand doing meet and greets with the fans and signing autographs throughout the majority of the evening. In addition, Sam “the Bugler” Grossman, NYRA’s official bugler, called the pacers to the post all evening long. Combine all the activities for the fans and the perfect summer weather with the top quality race card consisting of total purses of more than a half million dollars and Saturday night was a special night to be at the track.
             The $260,000 purse for the Gerrity is the biggest at the raceway this season and served as the highlight of the thirteen race card which also featured New York Sire Stakes action for three year old colt and gelding pacers. While the two $80,000+ races were highly competitive featuring some of the best sophomore pacers in the sport, it was the Gerrity that got fans down to the fence to get their view of the season’s biggest race. When the Gerrity was changed from a series to a free-for-all in 2013, superstar pacer Bolt The Duer did the unimaginable. He lowered the track record by two full seconds as he dazzled the stunned crowd with a victory in 1:49. The time was not only the fastest in the history of Saratoga but served as a world record performance as Bolt The Duer matched the fastest time in harness racing history on a half mile track. The ’14 Gerrity had a lot to live up to and it almost seemed impossible for Bolt The Duer’s record to be bested. The race’s favorite Dancin Yankee was up to the task though and went wire-to-wire in an eye-popping 1:48.4 to set a world record for an aged pacer on a half mile track, a record that still stands.
             Dancin Yankee made his return to Saratoga on Saturday night to lead a star-studded group of pacers, which included six millionaires, who slugged it out for their share of the $260,000 purse. Superstar driver Jim Morrill Jr. got the call to pilot Dancin Yankee, the race’s 8-5 favorite. Moving to the early lead in a fast opening quarter paced in 26.3, Dancin Yankee faced his first challenge just after the half when rival P H Supercam came rushing up to test the favorite. Despite pacing his first lap in 54.2, the track record holder had plenty left in the tank when confronted by P H Supercam. Those two battled for the entire final half and it wasn’t until the final strides when P H Supercam surged by to record the victory in 1:50.1. The win time was almost two full seconds faster than the previous ’15 best at the Spa. Yonkers regular Jason Bartlett drove P H Supercam to the impressive score in the Gerrity for trainer Jeff Bamond Jr. Bartlett and Bamond became the seventh different driver and trainer to prevail in the Gerrity in its seven year history. A dead game Dancin Yankee came up second best by a neck to P H Supercam who needed every bit of his 55 second final half to secure the victory.
             P H Supercam won the 2014 George Morton Levy Final at Yonkers Raceway to propel him to a year in which he earned just shy of $600,000. Earlier this season, the eight year old became a millionaire and his career bankroll now sits just shy of $1.25 million after his Saturday score. Dancin Yankee now has two second place finishes (he was the runner up in 2012) in the Gerrity to go with his world record-setting win in ’14. This year’s Levy winner Domethatagain drew post eight in Saturday’s Gerrity but came charging hard in the stretch to finish third with Saratoga’s five-time defending driving champion Billy Dobson in the sulky. It was yet another impressive stretch drive in the Gerrity which resulted in the closest finish in its history. The three fastest times in track history have now been recorded in the last three Gerritys. While the track record wasn’t approached in this year’s installment of the Gerrity, there was a track record that fell on Saturday night as Artistic Major set a new mark for three year old pacing colts while pulling off the mild upset in his division of the $84,187 New York Sire Stakes by scoring in 1:51.2 with Jim Morrill Jr. in the sulky. It was another great crowd for this year’s edition of the Gerrity and while fans didn’t get to see the track record fall for the third consecutive season, they were treated to a nail biting feature on a night of great racing at the Spa.
             Live racing takes place every Tuesday through Saturday night for the remainder of the summer with first post time each night set for 7:05pm. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!         



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