A bit­ter­sweet win for mourn­ing An­gel Mon­tano

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By Marty McGee Fol­low Marty McGee on Twit­ter @DRFMcGee

LEX­ING­TON, Ky. – An­gel Mon­tano didn’t make the trip Thurs­day to Keeneland to sad­dle Dap­per Sam, the lat­est win­ner in his re­mark­able train­ing ca­reer. Mon­tano re­cently turned 78 and has trou­ble get­ting around, ow­ing to a bum hip and other mal­adies, so he watched on TV from his Louisville con­do­minium.

The phys­i­cal set­backs, how­ever, are not what ails Mon­tano. On Sept. 30, he lost his wife of 58 years, Pa­tri­cia “Mom Pat” Mon­tano, who died of can­cer at age 75. The cou­ple had seven grown chil­dren – most of them in­volved in rac­ing in one facet or an­other – as well as 22 grand­chil­dren and two great-grand­chil­dren. His vic­tory with Dap­per Sam was Mon­tano’s first since her death.

“I’m still try­ing to get over it,” Mon­tano said early Fri­day. “It’s very hard.”

Fol­low­ing the death of For­rest Kaelin in late July, Mon­tano is now be­lieved to be the long­est-tenured trainer on the Ken­tucky cir­cuit, or at least at his home track, Churchill Downs. D. Wayne Lukas, the 83-year-old Hall of Famer, is older, but no one has had a sta­ble here longer than Mon­tano, who came to the U.S. from his na­tive Mex­ico in 1956 prior to tak­ing out a trainer’s li­cense in 1961.

In his glory years, Mon­tano was the lead­ing trainer at Churchill for three straight spring meets (1976-78), and has also been the lead­ing trainer at meets at El­lis Park (1976, 1990) and Tur­fway Park (1990, 2000). Since 1976, which is as far back as avail­able stats go, his horses have won 1,130 races.

But num­bers don’t tell the whole story. Mon­tano has rev­eled in the joys of fam­ily while be­com­ing as well liked and re­spected as any­one on the cir­cuit. Hun­dreds, if not thou­sands, of peo­ple on the race­track and be­yond have let the Mon­tanos know they’re hurt­ing for the fam­ily.

“Dad doesn’t burn any bridges,” said Joey Mon­tano, a horse owner and one of An­gel’s five sons. “From the hot walk­ers to the own­ers, every­one seems to ap­pre­ci­ate what a nice guy he is. He’s re­ally some­thing.”

Dap­per Sam, rid­den by ap­pren­tice Edgar Mo­rales, won Thurs­day by 4 3/4 lengths as the 17-10 fa­vorite. The 4-year-old geld­ing was one of five horses (out of just seven starters) claimed for $16,000 out of the race, and Mon­tano will seek to re­place him some time soon with a claim of his own.

But there’s some­one he can’t re­place, and his life will never be the same.

“They don’t make ’em like her any­more,” he said. “She was a good per­son, a good mom. She’s in heaven now, so she’s bet­ter off.”

‘Bis­cuits’ de­ci­sion on BC near

Mind Your Bis­cuits had his first breeze since a 4 3/4-length vic­tory in the Sept. 29 Lukas Clas­sic at Churchill be­fore dawn Fri­day, go­ing five fur­longs in 1:00.40 over a fast Churchill track with Tyler Gaf­falione up.

Trainer Chad Sum­mers said af­ter­ward a de­ci­sion could be im­mi­nent on which Nov. 3 Breed­ers’ Cup race – the Clas­sic, Dirt Mile, or Sprint – will be cho­sen for Mind Your Bis­cuits, whose $4.28 mil­lion bankroll is the high­est all­time for a New York-bred.

Also, Seek­ing the Soul, head­ing to the Clas­sic, breezed an easy half-mile in 51 sec­onds Fri­day in his first work since win­ning the Sept. 29 Ack Ack.

A few firsts for Casse

Surely there will be more firsts as his train­ing ca­reer un­folds, but Nor­man Casse ex­pe­ri­enced a few Thurs­day when he sent out An­gel of Mis­chief to win the sev­enth race, a $68,589 al­lowance. It was his first win at Keeneland, his first in a non-maiden and/ or claim­ing race, and the first time a horse trained by his fa­ther, trainer Mark Casse, com­pleted the ex­acta be­hind him (Bri­daled Tem­per).

Nor­man Casse, 35, went out on his own in March af­ter a lengthy stint as his fa­ther’s as­sis­tant and now has about 30 horses in train­ing. An­gel of Mis­chief won a Ken­tucky Downs maiden race on Sept. 8, the day Casse was mar­ried to rac­ing tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Gabby Gaudet.

Four stakes next week

A graded stakes will be run on four straight days next week at Keeneland, start­ing Thurs­day with the Grade 3 Sy­camore for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Ark­low, win­ner of the Ken­tucky Turf Cup last month at Ken­tucky Downs for trainer Brad Cox, is ex­pected to face the Mike Maker duo of Big­ger Pic­ture and Os­car Nom­i­nated in the Sy­camore.

The en­su­ing stakes are the Grade 3 Val­ley View on Fri­day, the Grade 2 Raven Run on Satur­day, and the Grade 3 Dowa­ger on Sun­day. The only stakes re­main­ing will then be the Grade 2 Fayette on clos­ing day, Oct. 27.

The Raven Run card will pre­cede a Blue­grass dou­ble­header end­ing with the Van­der­bilt-Ken­tucky foot­ball game that evening at nearby Kroger Field.

Trio of Sun­day al­lowances

A nine-race pro­gram fea­tur­ing three al­lowances (races 2, 6, 8) will bring the five-day race week to an end Sun­day. First post is 1:05 p.m. East­ern. A two-hour meet-and-greet fea­tur­ing per­son­al­i­ties from the an­nual Sec­re­tariat Fes­ti­val in Paris, Ky., will be avail­able to fans start­ing at 11 a.m.

Af­ter Sun­day, Keeneland goes dark for two days be­fore an­other five-day week starts with an eight-race Wed­nes­day card.

KEENELAND/COADY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

An­gel Mon­tano lost his wife of 58 years, Pa­tri­cia “Mom Pat” Mon­tano, on Sept. 30.

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