by John Manzi, for the NAADA
Monticello, NY— He has been competing with amateur status since he began driving but Wednesday (Oct. 10) at Monticello Raceway Tony Ciuffetelli drove like a professional when he won both divisions of the French vs. America Friendship competition. The former corrections officer won one race from behind and the other on the front-end.
In the third race Ciuffetelli avoided the congestion in front of him and rallied Sams Fortune to a come-from-behind triumph in 2:03.4 over seven rivals and three races later he sent Brandos Music Man to the front and made every pole a winning one en route to a 2:00.4 victory.
“This is my first driving double and I’m certainly thrilled,” a smiling Ciuffetelli said in the paddock as he handed the reins to the horse’s caretaker.
Starting from the two-hole with Sams Fortune Ciuffetelli got away slowly as four others sped for the lead. They were in fifth place when the field passed the first quarter as France’s Sandrine Oyer was stuck on the limb with Five Star Stud.
As the race progressed French driver Jerome Maillard had Tattle Tell Teen on the lead as Frenchman Jean Marc Freyssence and Four Star Lefty were second-over behind Oyer’s pacer which sort of made a block for anyone trying to get around. Sensing a problem the USA’s Alan Schwartz wheeled Lightning Madison three-deep and they paced by the leaders and opened daylight and were followed by Ciuffetelli and Sams Fortune.
At the top of the lane Lightning Madison had a three length lead and despite being hung-out the entire way Five Star Stud was still in contention. At that point Sams Fortune was fifth on the far outside, still five lengths off the leader. But as the field progressed in the lane Lightning Madison faded to finish third and Sams Fortune rallied to a length victory over Five Star Stud.
“I made it through the traffic and when we finally cleared and headed for home my horse was the strong horse and we went on to win it,” Ciuffetelli explained.
The winner is owned by Pete and Donna Siebert and trained by Siebert. He paid $7.80.
After all the road trouble Ciuffetelli had in the first event he hustled the betting favorite Brandos Muscle Man to the lead from the six-hole and played catch me if you can and nobody could. They chugged along unchallenged for a one length victory in a time of 2:00.4 as his French rivals finished second and third.
With a two-hole trip France’s Jerome Malliard was second best with Ralph R and his countryman, Jean Marc Freyssence, was third with Bootswiththefur, albeit in a dead-heat with Linda Marie, driven by the USA’s Jerry Fielding.
“He’s a classy old horse,” Ciuffetelli said referring to Brandos Muscle Man, “And even though the old veteran knew just what to do I still had to keep after him in the stretch.”
The winner is owned by Rick Dane and Monica Banca and trained by Dane. He paid $4.80.
For Ciuffetelli, who has sights on possibly being the amateur driver of the year, his seasons stats after today’s races are 10-7-6 in 50 starts with a UDR of .318.
On Friday, the final race in the America vs. France Friendship competition will be at The Meadowlands.