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China Grill Wins Fall Harvest Open Pace

Published: October 20, 2013 1:56 am ET

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Quebec-bred China Grill and driver Pat Lachance justified the endorsement of the electorate Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $37,000 Open Pace.

Winning the blind draw as the 11-10 favourite, China Grill retook from Eighteen (Jordan Stratton) before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, a :55.3 intermission as Bettors Reward (Jim Marohn Jr.) moved from fourth. All Speed Hanover (Brent Holland) was on that tow at the 1:23.3 three-quarters, with China Grill widening to two and three-quarter lengths. He kept his rivals at bay, winning by a length and a quarter in a lifetime-best 1:51. Pan From Nantucket (Eric Goodell, five winners on the 12-race card) closed to grab second, with Eighteen, Escape The News (George Brennan) and All Speed Hanover rounding out the payees.

China Grill, a five-year-old Shanghai Phil gelding trained by his driver for owner Lawrence Litwin of Cote Saint-Luc, Que., returned $4.30 for his sixth win in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) returned $8.50, with the triple returning $59.

Special props to the millionaire Lucky Man, who made his 150th career start his 30th career win. Goodell drove the eight-year-old Camluck gelding ($32.40) in the $19,000 second race, an off-the-pace win in 2:01.4 for the mile-and-one-sixteenth.

Saturday was also the fifth annual Fall Harvest Festival, highlighting the thriving relationship between agriculture and horse racing throughout New York State. A host of fun, family-friendly events adorned the apron, while the annual Legislators’ Challenge featured 10 of the state’s elected officials in non-wagering -- but ultra-competitive -- battle.

Assembly Member Andrew Garbarino (R-Suffolk) won the "rookie" division with Cockney Hanover in a first-up 2:11.4. Holland was also there, offering minimal assistance.

Assembly Member Keith Wright (D-Harlem) crossed winning a Legislators' Challenge off his bucket list, teaming with Strong Signal (and, to a lesser extent, Bartlett) to win the "veterans" division from the pocket in 2:11.3.

Assembly Member Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), a winner a year ago, joined with Kandi Chip (and Bartlett) to whip a pair of other previous winners -- Assembly Member Joe Saladino (R-Massapequa) and Assembly Member Gary Pretlow (D-Mt. Vernon) in a night's-fastest 2:09.4.

There was also a Racing Under Saddle exhibition, with John Michael and Mary Dolce Conti giving nothing else a chance. The pair teamed to win the mile-and-one-sixteenth event by nine and a quarter lengths in 2:15.

(With files from Yonkers Raceway)

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