The long wait ended for area horse racing fans when Presque Isle Downs opened its gates on July 5 to spectators for the first time since 2019.

One group of area fans rarely misses a night of racing at Presque Isle Downs & Casino and aims to make all 52 dates in 2021.

Eleven years ago, Summit Township residents Connie Goodwill and Diane Davis were just getting acquainted with one another when they had the idea of checking out Presque Isle Downs.

They became quick regulars and found a new friend at the track, Rose Vallimont of Erie. The trio are among the track’s most loyal fans.

So loyal, in fact, that Presque Isle Downs honored the women during the 2019 meet, a year which they made it to every single race night.

“They gave us each a blanket with our names on it,” Vallimont said.

The three fans did not attend any races in 2020, of course, because the track was closed to fans as part of the COVID-19 restrictions. The race fans waited out a long 2020 but paid attention to the simulcasts during the abbreviated season.

“It was awful,” Goodwill said. “I had to watch on my phone. All summer, we sat outside and watched it.”

Vallimont found her way down to Mahoning Valley Race Course in Youngstown, Ohio, at some point during the year to get her fix of horse racing.

Unlike her cohorts, Vallimont does not bet the races. She simply likes to take in the wonder of the animals.

Goodwill and Davis, however, were hooked the first time they hit a big winner. They even have a favorite jockey, Antonio Gallardo.

“It’s fun to do,” Goodwill said. “(If they win), we go for ice cream.”

Once the dates were set for the 2021 meet, the women looked forward to reuniting at the track.

“We did a countdown,” Davis said. “How many more days, how many more days.”

Stakes season to open

The three friends will be able to watch the first stakes race of the PID season on Monday. The Malvern Rose Stakes will be the first of 13 stakes races scheduled for Presque Isle Downs & Casino in 2021.

The $100,000 guaranteed race features 3-year-old registered Pennsylvania-bred fillies. The 15th running of the race is 6½ furlongs and has a 6:25 p.m. tentative post time. Racing starts at 4:45 p.m.

Caravel, the 2020 Pennsylvania Horse of the Year, won last year’s Malvern Rose for one of two stakes wins at PID in 2020. She also bested the field in the Lady Erie Stakes.

Pablo Morales rode those Caravel wins for trainer/owner Elizabeth Merryman. Both will compete in the 2021 Malvern Rose Stakes on separate entries.

Merryman has entered Tipsy Chatter, with jockey Julio Hernandez aboard. Tipsy Chatter is the half-sister of Caravel; both were foaled by Kentucky-bred Zeezee Zoomzoom.

Morales, the leading jockey at PID this season, will ride Rookery for trainer Wayne Catalano and the Coffeepot Stables ownership group. Rookery was sired by famed PA-bred Hard Spun, which had Top 3 finishes at the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Breeders Cup Classic in 2007.

Original source credited to: GoErie
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