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Rooney & Lismore Elims Contested; Hes Watching Defeated

Published: May 25, 2014 1:07 am ET

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The storyline entering Saturday night’s eliminations for Yonkers Raceway’s Art Rooney Pace for three-year-old colts/gelding was the undefeated Hes Watching. The storyline leaving those races was Hes Watching having to wait for another night.

Take nothing away from down-the-road, $40,000 elim winners Stevensville (Tim Tetrick, $21.60) and All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, $2.30), who lead an octet into next Saturday’s $300,000 final. What transpired with early season Pepsi North America Cup favourite Hes Watching, the eight-for-eight U.S. frosh divisional champion of a season ago, was totally unexpected.

Sent postward as the 10-cents on-the-dollar favourite from post position No. 2 in his three-year-old pari-mutuel debut, the New York-bred track and world record holder of last summer looked like he wanted no part of his work night. Taken a bit wide in the first turn, he settled loosely-pocketed as Stevensville — from post No. 6 — led through early intervals of :27.3 and :56.2.

However, going toward the 1:25.1 three-quarters, Hes Watching's driver Jim Morrill Jr. was asking questions and not getting the required answers. Stevensville widened to win by three and three-quarter lengths in 1:53. Second went to 44-1 outsider Gold Rocks (Scott Zeron), with Bondi Hanover (Brian Sears) third. Fourth — and the final berth in the final — went to a break-recovering Unlocked (Brent Holland), with Forty Five Red (George Brennan) fifth and Hes Watching bring up the rear sixth, beaten 17-1/4 lengths.

For third choice Stevensville, a son of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by trainer Ray Schnittker, Paul Bordogna and Ryan Miller, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $342, with the triple returning $1,249.

As for Hes Watching, “He just acted as if he wanted to run off at any time,” said Morrill Jr. “I would have been happy sitting a two-hole, but I couldn’t get him to relax. I probably shut his air off, but there was nothing I could do.”

“It was an unfortunate set of circumstances,” said co-owner/trainer Dave Menary. “There didn’t appear to be any physical issues, but what happened happened. He’s too good a horse, and we’ll go back and see. I’m confident this is just going to be a blip on the radar.”

All Bets Off made short work of the second elim for the Rooney, leading — from post No. 3 — through sub-sections of :27.1, :56.1, 1:25.1 and 1:52.3. The final margin was two and a half lengths over Some Playa (Brennan), with Ideal Fashion (Sears) third and Thereisapaceforus (Jason Bartlett) fourth and into the finale. Maxi Bon (Zeron) broke down while on the move down the backside and was distanced.

For All Bets Off, a statebred son of Bettors Delight co-owned by trainer Ron Burke (as Burke Racing), Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stables and Ontario's Rosemary Shelswell, he’s now two-for-three this season. The exacta paid $8.30, with no triple wagering.

“He was just solid from start to finish,” said Kakaley. “I popped the plugs and he took off.” Did he have any concerns after seeing the eventful doings of Hes Watching? “No, not at all. “

As was the case in the eliminations for Yonkers Raceway’s Art Rooney Pace, death-and-taxes favourites in the elims for the Lismore (three-year-old pacing fillies) were no better than a 50-50 proposition.

Southwind Silence (George Brennan, $2.90) was a handy, wire-to-wire winner in the first $20,000 elimination.

From post position No. 4, she threw down essentially equal halves (:28, 57.1, 1:26, 1:54) before winning by a length and a half. Bettor Business (Dan Dube), last season’s upset New York Sire Stakes champ, snapped second over an-early-impeded Palm Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.). It Was Fascination (Scott Zeron) was far ahead of the misbehaving A Little Starstruk (Jason Bartlett), the former earning her place in next Saturday’s final.

For Southwind Silence, a daughter of Well Said co-owned by trainer Ron Burke (as Burke Racing), Larry Karr and Joe DiScala Jr., it was her first win in two seasonal starts. The exacta paid $11.60, with no triple wagering.

The second elim for the Lismore saw inside number Also Encouraging (Brian Sears) sent off as the 35-cents on-the-dollar favourite. After moving from third, she secured the lead from Tyra (Morrill Jr.) at the :57.1 half (:28.3 quarter).

However, Also Encouraging had no resistance when Rustys Bliss (Jason Bartlett) came challenging. 'Rusty' gained the lead just after the 1:26.4 three-quarters, but with no one behind her, Tyra — from post No. 2 — was able to slip out...and slip by. Tyra whipped a stubborn 'Rusty' by a length and a half in 1:54.4. Gentlemens Delight (Dan Dube) was third, with Also Encouraging fading to fourth. That earned her a place at the table next week, but was of no solace those place pool bridge jumpers ($29,422 of the $32,153 on the beaten choice).

Tyra, a daughter of McArdle owned by CC Racing and trained by Joann Looney-King, returned $6.50 (second choice) for her first win in three ’14 tries. The exacta paid $105.50, with the triple returning $177. With the jumpers taking their leap, the place prices were $20.80 and $62.50, respectively.

The open draw for the 23rd Art Rooney Pace and the $124,744 final of the Lismore is Tuesday afternoon.

(With files from Yonkers Raceway)

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