Hitman Hill Still Perfect


Last-minute driver change for undefeated two-year-old. New driver uses adjectives "rank and wild" to describe him. Thankfully for his connections, the new driver also called the colt "very talented", and his still-unblemished record spoke to that assessment.

Unbeaten Hitman Hill (catch-driver Eric Goodell, $2.20) and Paprike Blue Chip (Jim Morrill Jr., $7) were the Empire’s elite Thursday night (Sept. 21st), highlighting Yonkers Raceway’s $157,600 New York Sire Stakes Jim Crawford Pace for two-year-old colts and geldings. A pair of $78,800 divisions comprised the event.

The opening group saw Paprike Blue Chip put in play from post position No. 5 (in one notch after a scratch). Grabbing the first lead, he relented to 3-10 choice Casual Cool (Jason Bartlett). The odds-on number took over just after a :27.2 opening quarter-mile, then rated a 57-second intermission and 1:26 three-quarters.

Silver Arrow (Mark MacDonald) was loitering first-up while Casual Cool maintained a not-so-casually contested lead into the lane. The people’s choice took Paprike Blue Chip to the passing lane, and pass he did.

The second choice whipped the fave by a length-and-three-quarters in 1:55, with Silver Arrow photoing American Vision (Jordan Stratton) for third.

For Paprike Blue Chip, a Roll With Joe gelding trained by John Butenschoen for co-owners Harmony Oaks & Crawford Racing and VIP Internet Stable, it was his fifth win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $9.80, with the triple returning $22.

“It’s not hard to get along with him,” said Morrill Jr., who has won three times with Paprike Blue Chip. “There’s some class there.”

Thursday’s second sire stakes event saw undefeated, pole-sitting Hitman Hill break in a new chauffeur after Brett Miller was unable to get to Yonkers from Delaware, Ohio in time.

As for Goodell’s post-mortem, ”He was rank and wild leaving the gate. Very talented, but he needs to control it.”

There were few stop signs early as My Delight (Brent Holland) made the first lead passing the :26.3 first subsection. Hitman Hill wanted no place in the pocket, making the lead and throwing it down (:55.2, 1:23.4).

He owned a tenuous length-and-and-a-half lead into the lane, appearing there for the taking.

However, in a slow (:29:3) final quarter, no one took it. Hitman Hill held off Topville Olympian (Morrill Jr.) by a head in 1:53.2, with Keystone Tenacious (Jim Marohn Jr.) third.

For Hitman Hill, an American Ideal gelding co-owned by Tom Hill & North Fork Racing and trained by Chris Oakes, he’s won all six of his career tries. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $5.30, with the triple returning $26.40.

Special Thursday props to Jim Marohn Jr., whose four victories were a personal local best. No props, at least not this night, for MacDonald, who remains at 5,999 career wins after going 0-for-9. MacDonald ventures to Vernon Downs Friday night (Sept. 22) for statebred frosh trotting fillies.

(with files from Yonkers)

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