For the families of two Los Angeles Kings scouts, Mark Bavis and Garnet "Ace" Bailey, two passengers who were killed on United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, they've come to realize that though five years have passed, their loved ones aren't forgotten.
Lew Mongelluzzo, an Ottawa Senators scout who hails from Philadelphia, clearly takes the city's nickname, "The City of Brotherly Love," to heart. Mongeluzzo, who owns and operates the thoroughbred-racing stable, Team Power Play Racing, simply combined his two favorite interests to keep the spirit of both Bavis and Bailey alive. Mongelluzzo decided to purchase a New York-bred colt that he named Aces Mark in honor of his two peers.
"I'm not a Boston guy, so I don't go way back to when they (Bavis and twin brother Mike) played high-school hockey," Mongelluzzo said. "Mark and I would see each other in the rink, we traveled together, and we'd discuss players. It was a good friendship. We'd have a coffee, have a beer, and discuss players. That's the kind of friendship we really had."
Given that Mongeluzzo had befriended Bavis years prior to his passing, it is safe to say the young man left a positive impression. When Mongeluzzo was the late Terry Slater's assistant coach at Colgate University, he recalls first hearing the Bavis' name, especially when his team, incuding future NHLer Steve Poapst, defeated Boston University, 3-2, in the semifinal game of the 1990 NCAA Championship at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
"Both Mark and Mike, the twins, played on that BU team," he remembers. "They played while I was with Colgate and that was when I started recognizing the name and knew who they were. They made an impression."
It was a few years later when Bavis took a job coaching at Harvard that Mongelluzzo, who had climbed into a pro-scouting position, would run into him again on the road. By then, the veteran hockey expert knew that Bavis, though quiet by nature, had a deep knowledge of the game and recommended him for a job with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.
Instead, Bavis accepted a job as an amateur scout with the LA Kings. Bavis was responsible for the scouting of college teams and was instrumental in the Kings' drafting of Ohio State's David Steckel, a first-round pick. Bavis was entering his second season with the Kings at the time of his death at age 31.
Ace Bailey, a silver-haired man with a dimpled smile, was the director of pro scouting for the Kings under then-GM Dave Taylor. When Taylor heard about buying shares of Aces Mark, he jumped on the bandwagon. The same can be said for former NHLers Mike Kitchen, Eddie Olczyk, Don Meehan, Peter Laviolette (who played on the 1995-96 Providence Bruins team with Bavis), Keith Jones, Larry Pleau, and Joel Quenneville.
"I knew Ace and it was always great to see him at games," Quenneville said. "It was always a fun conversation, as Ace was always willing to share a story or two."
Quenneville, the head coach for the Colorado Avalanche and a long-time fan of thoroughbred racing, understands how risky the horse business is.
"We can all dream of owning a champion, but actually having him break his maiden (win for the first time) will make me happy," he said. "I wanted to be involved to help keep Ace and Mark in our thoughts, and have a little fun with it, too."
Bailey won two Stanley Cups as a player and was entering his 33rd season as a player or scout in the NHL, and his eighth season as Kings' director of pro scouting. He spent the previous 13 years as a scout with the Edmonton Oilers, who won five Stanley Cups in that time.
|Aces Mark ran his first race at Aqueduct Racetrack on Jan. 7, 2006. |
Both Bailey and Bavis left their mark in the hockey world. The beginning of Aces Mark's career is in its infancy, but with a little luck, he'll make his mark in competitive thoroughbred racing, just as his namesakes did in their hockey careers.
Aces Mark made his first start at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y., on Jan. 6, 2007 on the inner-dirt track at six furlongs. Someone had confidence in him as Aces Mark went off the 22-10 favorite in a large field. But the inside position in thoroughbred racing can be difficult for beginners. He did not break well from the gate, which compromised his chances, and couldn't make up the ground. Jockey Chuck Lopez said it took Aces Mark about 100 yards to get his feet under him and in stride, but was optimistic in stating that it seemed Aces Mark wants to go longer distances.
The three-year-old Gold Case colt, Aces Mark, is certainly in good hands. Linda Rice is one of the top trainers at developing young horses, including Yankee Master, a stakes winner of $147,323 for Team Power Play Racing. Rice's horses have earned more than $15 million.
But according to Mongelluzzo, it isn't all about winning and losing, though winning would be ideal. He hopes that some profits can go towards providing financial support for two foundations: The Ace Bailey Children's Foundation (www.acebailey.com) and the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation (www.markbavisleadershipfoundation.org).
"I told Katherine, Ace's widow, the main function is not a charity," Mongelluzzo said. "The main function is for us to be able to capture their spirit and memory in a different fashion, other than a golf outing once a year, or writing a check.
"Horse racing is a very expensive game. We don't know if, in the end, there will be any financial support for the charities but if there is, great. But that's not the main function of this. The goal is to have Mark and Ace's spirit and memory live on for another day."
Author: Marcie Garcia | NHL.com Correspondent