Dennis Watson prevails in Dr. Martin Luther King PaceJanuary 16, 2008,
by John Manzi, publicity director, Monticello Raceway
Monticello, NY — BJ’s Jetstream and driver Dennis Watson circled the leaders at the three-quarter pole and then paced off to a five length victory in a time of 2:00 in the seventh annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pace at Monticello Raceway on January 15.
The race, the first in the Mighty M’s Heritage Drivers Series this year, features the talents of African-American drivers, and is also The Mighty M’s annual tribute to the great civil rights leader. And this season’s version of the MLK Pace was presented on Dr. King’s actual birthday.
After they started from post position six, Watson was content to keep his pacer back in sixth position while Bobby Williams, Jr. and Viagara Falls cut swift early fractions of :28.1 and :58.1.
Nearing the half, Watson moved BJ’s Jetstream first up and with a three-deep move up the backstretch, BJ’s Jetstream had the front-end in the final turn and then coasted home an easy 2:00 winner.Bobby (Boonie) Williams, Jr. finished second with Viagara Falls and George Polk, Jr. third with Half Life.
“(Trainer) Jimmy Carpenito told me BJ’s Jetstream is a good closer, especially if he gets a fast half and boy we lucked out when “Boonie” (Bobby Williams, Jr. driving pacesetter Viagara Falls) went a half in :58 seconds. And like the trainer said, with a fast half my horse closed like a runner and I’m thrilled and proud to have won the race which honors the memory of Dr. King,” Watson told a reporter who interviewed him in the winner’s circle after the driving victory.
Watson, who finished second in the MLK Pace last year, races a small stable at Freehold Raceway and conditions Jaguar Jet, a 1:52 winner last year who bankrolled almost $88,000. For Watson, who celebrated his 58th birthday two days earlier, it was his 125th driving victory.
Sent off at odds of over 11-1, BJ’s Jetstream paid $25.60, $15.20 and $7.80 across the board.
For the past seven years Monticello Raceway has been honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by staging a race exclusively for African-American drivers.
Because there are only a few African-Americans competing locally, the Mighty M has to annually reach out for out-of-town drivers who are willing to travel to Monticello for the competition.
And this year was no exception.
In order to fill the event the incomparable George Teague, Jr., who is always willing to help promote the sport he loves, along with George Polk, Jr., journeyed to the Mighty M from Harrington and Dover, Delaware, respectively.
They were joined by Dennis Watson, who came in from Freehold, N.J. and George Newell, Jr., who came up from Bellport, Long Island, N.Y. Last year’s winner, Donald Simmonds, made the trip here from Clinton, N.Y.
Monticello regulars Cedric Washington, who has reined 1,706 winners in his career, along with his dad, General Washington, Jr., and Bobby Williams, Jr. rounded out the competition in the event.