2003-11-26 / Sports

Cat Manzi joins a select group of harness drivers

Only third driver
in history to reach 10,000, victory mark

Only third driver
in history to reach 10,000, victory mark

FREEHOLD — Catello Manzi has joined a very select group of harness drivers.

The Freehold reinsman recently scored his 10,000th career win driving Series Sweep into the winner’s circle in the 11th race on Freehold Raceway’s card on Nov. 12.

With the win, he joined Herve Filion (15,005) and Walter Case Jr. (11.027) as the only drivers in the sport’s history to score 10,000 races in their career.

"I’m proud to have accomplished it," said Manzi, 53, who is a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. "Some great things have happened to me during my career. I was elected to the Hall of Fame, I won 10,000 [race events]. I never expected [it] to happen."

Manzi began his legendary career driving at Monticello Raceway in New York in 1968. He scored his first career win the following year, 1969, at Pocono Downs, Pa., with Mike’s Jimmy Lynn. Manzi has raced at the highest level, winning two Triple Crown races. He won the Yonkers Trot in 1994 with Bullville Victory and the Cane Pace in 1996 with Scoot To Power.

Manzi is still at the very top of his profession. He has won a record 15 driving titles at Freehold Raceway and is the defending champion at the fall/winter meet that is under way. He is not looking to retire anytime soon.

"I haven’t slowed down too much, and I intend to do this for as long as I’m able to do it," he said.

That means the driving title at Freehold Raceway will go through him.

Always humble, Manzi spread the credit for his 10,000 wins around.

"I didn’t just get here all by myself," he said. "A big reason is the hard work of others — trainers, groomers, owners. I’ve had literally hundreds of people help me over the years, and I’d like to take this opportunity thank each and every one of them."

Dancer Memorial

Manzi’s 10,000th career win is just the latest of historic moments at Freehold Raceway. On Nov. 19, the racetrack hosted the 28th James B. Dancer Memorial Pace for 3-year-olds.

Always one of the top races of the year for sophomore pacers, this year’s Dancer, with a $275,720 purse, attracted 2003 Triple Crown winner No Pan Intended, who was out to go two-for-two at Freehold Raceway.

No Pan Intended began his Triple Crown run at the Cane Pace, hosted by Freehold. He went on to claim the Little Brown Jug and Messenger Stakes to become the 10th winner of Pacing’s Triple Crown.

With David Miller in the sulky, No Pan Intended turned in a gusty 1:53.2 win as he overcame traffic problems from the very start.

Starting in the second tier from post 10, Miller had to pull his horse to the back of the field out of the gate in order to find racing room.

At the front, Mystery Man, with Stephane Bouchard driving, took the field through a 27.1 opening quarter.

Radar Sign (Luc Ouellette), Mystery Man’s stable mate, settled in behind the leader and just before the half-mile charged to the lead, passing the half-mile in 55.4.

Miller had to take his pacer three-wide in order to get ahead of tiring horses. He was seventh, but charging, at the half-mile. Radar Sign retained control of the race, passing three-quarters in 1:24. However, Miller had No Pan Intended on the move going three-wide again on the backstretch.

Around the final turn, Radar Sign still had the lead, but No Pan Intended was poised to strike. It was a stretch run for the win, with both drivers urging their charges on. No Pan Intended had one move left in him. He caught the front-runner near the wire, and pulled away for a one-and-three-quarter-length victory in 1:53.2.

Real Dion (Jim Morill Jr.) used a late rush to finish third.

Miller couldn’t say enough about the performance of his champion.

"He had just an awful trip," he pointed out. "We got too far away back at the start, and I had to keep him off the rail the whole mile to try to keep him from getting locked in. He was three-wide at the half for a while and again at the three-quarters, but he just kept coming."

For No Pan Intended, the son of Pacific Fella. this was his 15th win in 19 starts. He has earned $1.18 million for the season.

Win the Dancer Memorial added to his Triple Crown, No Pan Intended will be the sophomore Pacer of the Year for 2003, and a contender for Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year honors.

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