by John Manzi, for NAADA
Yonkers, NY — The French-American Friendship Races began on Tuesday night (Oct. 9) at Yonkers Raceway and will be followed by events at Monticello Raceway on Wednesday (Oct. 10) and at The Meadowlands on Friday (Oct. 12).
At the Hilltop oval, it was “Ladies’ Night” in the first America vs. France Friendship Race, when American Monica Banca scored a one-length triumph with Life Well Lived in 1:58.3, while second place went to Delcrest Massey driven by France’s Sandrine Oyer. The ladies had bragging rights after they finished one-two.
When the starter said go, France’s Jerome Malliard sent Ladys Big Stormont to the lead and they were quickly joined by the U.S.A.’s Joe Faraldo with Tough Get Going. The two trotters raced side by side past the quarter in :28.3 and by the half in :57.4. But when they headed up the backside, both horses showed fatigue from the swift early fractions. It was there that Monica Banca moved Life Well Lived off the pylons, and they trotted around Tough Get Going and up alongside Ladys Big Stormont to take the lead past the third stanza in 1:28.1.
But as the new leader headed for pay dirt, France’s Sandrine Oyer had Delcrest Massey on Banca’s back. That was as far as they could go, having to settle for second money of the $17,500 purse. Third place went to Drazzmatazz, driven by France’s Jean Marc Freyssenge.
The race tonight certainly showed off the talents of the two ladies, who were among eight drivers participating in the first Friendship event on American soil.
Life Well Lived is owned by Bob Burgess and trained by Carmen Auciello. The 4-year-old Muscle Mass gelding paid $16.40 to win.
With four races still to go, France leads the United States, 22-20.