Gary Messenger and Jim Taggart Jr. take top Honors at Monticello Raceway

January 2, 2020

By: Shawn Wiles
Photo Credit: Geri Schwarz

Gary Messenger L – Shawn Wiles C – Jim Taggart Jr. R
Gary Messenger and Jim Taggart in winners circle surrounded by friends and family


Monticello NY – The curtain fell on the 2019 Racing Season at Monticello Raceway on Tuesday afternoon December 31, between the races awards for leading trainer and driver were handed out. Trainer Gary Messenger won honors for leading dash winning trainers and Jim Taggart Jr. took top honors for leading dash winning drivers. The relationship of Gary Messenger and Jim Taggart Jr has been very prolific since Taggart became the main driver for the Gary Messenger Stables 10 years ago, the duo was responsible for the 2018 Monticello Raceway horse of the year Warrawee Preferred and many other top performers over the years.  Both horseman has been mainstays at Monticello for decades, Messenger a native of Monticello NY and the 49-year-old Taggart hails from nearby Honesdale, PA.

Gary Messenger harnessed 488 starters over the course of the 2019 season at Monticello Raceway with 113 winners with a UDRS of .383 and a winning percentage of a respectable 23%.  His starters earned $440,571 for the barn with earnings per start of $903.  With trainer with over 500 starts, Messenger ranked 12th in the nation for trainer with over 500 starts with 153 wins and stable earnings of $797,354. James Doherty Jr finished in second place with 95 wins trailed by former leading trainer Robert Lounsbury with 85 wins

Jim Taggart Jr. took top honors for leading dash winning driver with 254 wins, Michael Merton was second with 211 and former multiple dash winner Monticello Raceway driver Bruce Aldrich was 3rd with a win tally of 208.  Last season Jim Taggart finished 5th with 168 wins.  Taggart’s mounts earned $893,141 for the year

Also on the card were 4 horses making their final lifetime start. The 14 year olds Crypto Man, My Cool Breeze, Briars Creeks Angel and Elias Joy.

The 11 race card produced the 2nd highest handle of the year with $810,575 wagered with a per race average of $73,688.

Live racing will resume on Thursday Jan 2 with post time at 12:20, Monticello will also offer live racing on Friday January 3.