JOHN DUNLAP had tears in his eyes after he won his first pari-mutuel race at Buffalo Raceway Wednesday night with Miles End Shelly in 2:06 on a track rated "good."
It's easy to explain why he was so happy. Dunlap, 25, has been training standardbreds for almost eight years, and it was the first time he has been in the winner's circle as a driver. A provisional reinsman, Dunlap had had only 10 previous drives, so it will take some time to earn his "A" license.
"Working with horses is really all I've ever wanted to to," said Dunlap. "My dad was at the track watching me drive, and my mother watched me at the simulcast at Batavia Downs.
"It's tough to get the required number of drives, especially when you've been working for an owner-trainer like the late Rob Rankin, who had a bunch of expensive horses."
Dunlap's father, Earl, also trained horses, such as Ahoy Captain and Stone Island for Rankin. Before that, Tim, the eldest of Earl's three sons, trained horses for the late Jim Rankin for about eight years.
Both Rankin brothers were killed in automobile accidents several years apart.
Now the Dunlaps are training all the horses owned by C & G Stable of Orchard Park, whose co-owners are Dr. Dominic Colarusso Jr. and Dr. Joe Amico, with Dr. Colarusso Sr. and retired trainer Vince Aquino continuing as advisers.
The best horse the Dunlaps are training for C & G Stable is Marvelous Helen, a pacing mare who, driven by former area regular Doug Snyder, posted a lifetime mark of 1:56 3/5 among her eight wins at The Meadows, Pa., last year.
Marvelous Laurie, her full sister, also will qualify soon, while a full brother, the yearling Greatest Fella, will race next year. Also in the C & G stable is Dr. Joe, a colt whose mother, Marvelous Mare, also is the mother of Marvelous Helen, Marvelous Laurie and Greatest Fella.
Dr. Joe was sired by the famed On The Road Again. Another to be trained by the Dunlaps is Next Date, a 2-year-old trotting filly.
Betsy Brown at Rosecroft
Former area trainer-driver Betsy Brown is the second-leading trainer at Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland. In 89 starts, she has trained 19 winners, 16 second-place finishers and eight third-place winners for a Universal Training Rating System (UTRS) percentage of .343. She also has made 10 driving starts with two wins, four seconds and one third place. And earlier this season, Brown was named Rosecroft's Horsewoman of the Week. . . . Also at Rosecroft, Lloyd Gilmour has three wins since Oct. 28, when he won in 2:00 with New Legend, a trotter owned by Western New York's New Legend Stable. Gilmour also won with pacers Champagne Classic (1:56 1/5 ) and Seattle Stu (1:58 2/5 0, the latter in the consolation of the Fort Washington Series. Gilmour had been sidelined almost two years with a fractured knee. . . . With the Eurotrack configuration on its five-eighths-mile track, Rosecroft has recorded 1,1707 sub 2-minute miles in 1990, including 88 on the trot.
Lambertus is honored
Bill Lambertus, a former Hamburg regular, was voted Horseman of the Year by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association. Lambertus, of Hanover, Ont., has found a "home" at Pocono Downs, where he set the track's single-season dash-winning record of 198 last season. He had 1,021 starts with 154 second-place finishes and 140 thirds for a .323 UDRS and $360,000 in earnings.
Scenic Regal near $100,000
Scenic Regal, the 8-year-old Lindys Crown trotting mare trained and driven by Saratoga regular Harold Story, won her last start, a $18,000 handicap trot at Yonkers in 1:59 1/5 from the No. 8 post, and is nearing the $100,000 career-earnings mark.
Pompano features swift
Hearty Welcome, with Wally Hennessey driving, won the $12,000 invitational pacing feature at Pompano in 1:54 1/5 , defeating A J's Storm and Polo Player. Free Token, with Joe Pavia Jr. driving, won the $12,000 trot in 1:56 4/5 , defeating Jeffs Playboy and Bold Herbert.
Batavia simulcasts open
Batavia Downs has moved its simulcasting of Aqueduct thoroughbred racing (12:30 p m. post time) and its harness racing (7:30 p.m. post time) from Buffalo Raceway to the mezzanine floor where four large screens and other TV monitors (also for sports) are located. Batavia's best handle for Aqueduct was $8,400 a week ago.
More hub rails go down
The hub rails have been removed both at Vernon Downs (permanently) and at The Meadowlands in New Jersey, the latter for harness racing, which opens Dec. 26 for an eight-month season. The Meadowlands will reconstruct its hub rail when thoroughbred racing resumes there in late August. Officials at both tracks cited the safety features of racing without a hub rail.