Tony Verruso sat back with Masster Blue, allowed Tony Beltrami and Latoka to cut the fractions, then closed with a rush to win the American Harness Drivers Club Trot today (March 5) at Freehold Raceway.
Maybe it was only fitting that Verruso won the American Harness Drivers Club trot today at Freehold Raceway since the track was honouring the prowess of longtime veteran Harold Kelly, who won many driving titles at the New Jersey double oval, and Verruso started in the game under Kelly's tutelage. He even wears the blue and gold colours of his mentor.
In today's event Beltrami sent Latoka to the lead and with nobody challenging them they led the competition by the quarter in a soft :29.4. Still alone on the lead, Latoka was a length in front of If I Must (Paul Minore) when they passed the half in 1:01.
Verruso, who was traveling along in third place, moved Masster Blue off the pylons and up to challenge Latoka for the lead and they were side by side when they trotted by the three quarters in 1:30.2.Heads apart when they rounded the final turn and straightened for home, the two trotters then battled through the stretch and in the final strides Master Blue proved to be the strong horse. He went on to a one-length triumph as the final timer flashed 2:00. Third place went to If I Must.
"I was extremely pleased to win the race today since I all but learned the game from Harold Kelly who was a great horseman and longtime leader at Freehold," Verruso said.
Masster Blue is an eight-year-old Muscle Mass gelding owned and trained by John Novello. He paid $6.80 for the win.