MONTICELLO, N.Y. — Sanford native Billy “Zeke” Parker guided Topgun to victory to collect his 11,000th career win as a harness racing driver in the 13th and final race at Monticello Raceway Tuesday.
Parker’s milestone victory came after he left strongly from the pole position and allowed the betting favorite, Paulimony, driven by Jimmy Taggart Jr., to take command before the quarter pole. From there, Parker stalked the leader, and in the lane, he rallied his pacer enough to score a head victory in the final strides in a 1:56.3 clocking.
“I’m really glad I won my 11,000th with Bobby Merton’s girlfriend’s horse,” Parker said in a news release from Monticello Raceway. “When I had a big stable Bobby worked for me for over ten years.”
Parker wiped tears from his eyes when he was joined by family, friends, management and some fellow drivers who came in from the paddock to be part of the winner’s circle ceremonies.
Earlier on the card, Parker scored his 10,999th victory when he guided 14-year-old pacer How Forever Feels home first in 1:57.4.
Parker admitted he was nervous for the next race.
“Yeah, I was. I was pushing a little at the end,” he said. “I’m glad it’s over and I’m proud. 11,000 is a lot of wins.”
The Monticello Harness Horsemen’s Association gave Parker a Bulova watch engraved with his milestone victory.
Parker is currently third in races won at Monticello this season with 123. Over the years, he has won 18 driving titles at Monticello along with titles at Yonkers Raceway and Foxboro Raceway.
He started his career in Maine in the 1960s and raced regularly at Scarborough Downs, Bangor Raceway and Lewiston Raceway.
When told he is now only 38 wins behind fellow Maine driver Walter Case Jr. Parker said, “I’ll probably beat that but it’s a shame because Casey hasn’t driven a horse in 10 years [except for the few times he drove in 2008].”