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Ocean Downs Hands Out Annual Awards
BERLIN - The largest crowd of the summer enjoyed the Ocean Downs closing-night umbrella giveaway and fireworks show Saturday, Aug. 25.
There were 3,625 fans on hand, which was the largest gathering at the Ocean Oval since closing night of 2005 when 4,175 filled the stands. In addition to 12 races, Ocean Downs presented a blanket to its 'Horse Of The Meet and honored the summer's leading driver and trainer.
Seven year-old pacer Twin B Scamper earned 'Horse of the Meet' honors for owner/driver Frank Milby and trainer Don Milby. The Run The Table mare won eight races this summer at the ocean while finishing second in the other three of her 11 starts.
'She's come around. Very few horses want to win like she does,' Milby said.
The 29-year-old Milby was recognized Saturday night in a winners' circle presentation for earning 2007 leading driver honors at the ocean. Milby had two wins closing night and finished the 40-day meet with 67 first-place finishes, the most at Ocean Downs in the last 10 years. George Dennis won 62 in 1998 when he was also the leading trainer with 17 winners.
'I just wanted to come down here and have fun, be safe and win some races,' Milby, also the leading driver currently at Rosecroft Raceway said. 'I had no idea it would go this good, but it's been a great time all summer.' Ocean Downs' track announcer George Anthony has tabbed Milby 'Fearless Frank Milby' Milby is honored. 'Any time you're doing good enough to get a nickname, that's a good thing. It's flattering for me,' he said.
One of Milby's two wins closing night was with 5-year-old Island Ace, trained by Shawn Armour ($4.00, 1:55.3). For the 33-year-old Armour, who trains horses at his facility in Rising Sun, Md., it was his 27th training win of the summer, earning him leading trainer honors. Armour originally wasn't planning to come to the ocean.
'I talked my wife into it. She didn't want to come down a lot. I thought I could win the leading trainer,' Armour said positively.
His 27 training wins were also the most wins in the last 10 summers at Ocean Downs.
The second-leading driver of the meet, Ray Robinson, Jr. also had an excellent summer. 'Shorty' logged his 53rd win of the meet Saturday, eclipsing his previous summer-meet best of 47 in 2001. Saturday's win came driving Always Hilarious ($3.60, 1:57) in the Robert Cotton, Jr. Memorial Pace. The 8-year-old mare is trained by Robert Cotton, Sr. of Berlin.
'I think that's the most important race I ever won in my whole life,' Robert Cotton, Sr. said.
His son died at the age of 22 in a car accident after racing at Garden State Park
'He was a good young horseman. He won a lot of races down here and used to work for (trainer) Joe Hundertphund and then went out on his own,' Cotton said proudly.
Mark Gray had a driving-triple closing night and finished tied for second in the driver standings with 23 wins. Gray had the lines as 7-year-old Dr. J's Posse, a gelding Gray also trains, won his fourth of the meet ($5.60, 1:57.3)
The 2005 leading driver at Ocean Downs, Brandon Givens, was in the bike for two winners closing night and completes the summer meet with 23 wins tied with Mark Gray.
Milby was asked if his friend, 21-one year-old Givens now acknowledges Milby's driving skills. 'Oh no, he tells me all the time he's better than me,' Milby joked.