Up Your Deo, Captain Batboy Take First Triple Crown Jewels

Photos clockwise from top left: Up Your Deo, Captain Batboy, Earthwindfire and Secret Volo
Published: June 30, 2023 10:29 pm EDT

The first Triple Crown jewels went to Yonkers Trot champion Up Your Deo and Messenger Stakes winner Captain Batboy during Friday night stakes action at MGM Yonkers Raceway.

Up Your Deo, fresh off a track record win in his elimination a week ago, kicked off this year's Trotting Triple Crown with a 1:53.3 triumph for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt in the $300,000 MGM Yonkers Trot for three-year-old colts and geldings.

Starting from post two, Up Your Deo, who miscued briefly past the start in his elimination score, got away cleanly this time and settled in third behind Chapercraz (Yannick Gingras) and Ari Ferrari J (Dexter Dunn). Chapercraz posted opening-half fractions of :28 and :57.2, with Svanstedt waiting until early on the third turn to move out first-over. Unfortunately for Svanstedt, his other horse in the race, Kierkegaard K (Mark MacDonald) went off-stride as he was flushing out Up Your Deo to follow, spoiling his chances of success.

Chapercraz quickened once Up Your Deo pulled and maintained command at the three-quarters in 1:25.3, but Up Your Deo had advanced in second on the outside at that point. They continued to race in that order around the final bend and into the stretch. Chapercraz was game as he tried to fend off his rival, but Up Your Deo sailed by halfway through the drive on his way to the win by three-quarters of a length. Chapercraz was the runner-up, with Ari Ferrari J, Devilish Hill (Andy McCarthy) and Tillios Action (Jordan Stratton) finishing third through fifth.

"I had to ask him a little. He answered immediately, then it was an easy win," remarked Svanstedt. "I don't know the schedule right now, but I hope [he's a Hambletonian horse]. We're going for that."

Bred by co-owner Deo Volente Farms, the victorious Walner colt is also co-owned by Svanstedt, Suleyman Yuksel Stables Inc. and Van Camp Trotting Corp. Up Your Deo now has three wins, three seconds and two thirds from 12 efforts and has earned $281,487.

He returned $3.40 to win as the 3-5 favourite. The exacta was worth $21.20 and the trifecta kicked back $70.

"The horse has come along really extremely well. He had bad luck as a two-year-old," said Mike Gulotta of Deo Volente Farms. "We were very lucky to own a piece of this horse. I actually went to congratulate Sarah Svanstedt for buying the horse. He was a $100,000 Walner and she said, 'Well, I have 20 per cent left, do you want it?' and I said, 'Absolutely.'"

"Mike Gulotta is like my brother. I invested in Deo Volente Farms and when I started watching the horse, I said this horse has talent," remarked Tom Pontone, another partner in Deo Volente. "The best part about it is we still own the mare and we still have a foal on the ground. She's pregnant now, so we hope for great things to come in years to come."

Gulotta added that Up Your Deo is heavily staked for the remainder of his sophomore campaign.

The companion filly race to the MGM Yonkers Trot, the $100,000 New York New York Mile, went to 8-1 shot Secret Volo, driven by Brian Sears.

She shot to the early lead from post seven but ended up third past the :27.1 opening quarter as first Walner Payton (Dexter Dunn) and then heavy favourite Sadie Hanover (Scott Zeron) moved by her. Sadie Hanover clicked off the half in :56.1 and the three-quarters in 1:25.1, with Sears tipping and rolling Secret Volo first-over passing the latter station. Secret Volo advanced to battle with Sadie Hanover, but it was a quick duel as Secret Volo took the top spot on the rim midway through the final bend, and after Sears kicked out the earplugs coming off the turn, Secret Volo widened on her rivals to prevail by 2-3/4 lengths in 2:00.4 for the mile and a sixteenth distance. Walner Payton, Sadie Hanover, Warrawee Yes (George Brennan) and Tipsy Moni (Jim Marohn Jr.) completed the top five.

"She's a great filly," said winning trainer Marcus Melander. "She was second behind Special Way last time. The eight-hole didn't bother that much to be honest because she was going around there very good. It was exciting, of course. She's proven herself before that she can race against the best ones. She's been very unlucky in these big races because she draws bad every time. I don't want to blame that, but she really does. She's racing good every week.

"She's probably got the Delvin Miller in two weeks at the Meadowlands," he added.

A daughter of Walner bred by Jorgen Jahre and Kentuckiana Farms and owned by Heights Stable, Rick Wahlstedt and Kenneth Kjellgren, Secret Volo made her third appearance in the winner's circle and has now banked $307,255.

She paid $19.60 to win and keyed a $72.50 exacta and a $164.50 trifecta.

Captain Batboy and driver Jordan Stratton made every call a winning one, capturing the $250,000 MGM Grand Messenger Stakes, the first jewel of Pacing's Triple Crown, in a sparkling 1:57.4 clocking for the mile and one-sixteenth distance.

A son of Captainreacherous, Captain Batboy, a winner of just $107,078 entering the race, more than doubled his earnings for owner Joseph Smith and trainer Tom Fanning.

With 10 horses in the field, the Messenger was turned into an added-distance affair, in an attempt to balance out the odds for the trailers. The action was hot and heavy with the longer run into the first turn as Strengthfromabove (Yannick Gingras) jetted to the front followed by American Fling (Jason Bartlett). American Fling had the lead early, but Captain Batboy and Stratton used most of the quarter before clearing in a wicked opening fraction of 26 seconds.

The 7-5 favoured Seven Colors pulled early on the second turn for Tim Tetrick, hoping to fish out cover and he was followed by Its A Me Mario (Brian Sears) and Bamboozler (Dexter Dunn), with the latter two racing parked out from the outset. Annapolis Hanover and driver Hunter Myers saw Tetrick coming and pulled late on the second turn to challenge for the front. With all the jostling for position behind him, Stratton was able to stall the second quarter to get to the half in just :54.3, and that was too slow for some, including Strengthfromabove and Gingras, who was parallel to the ground while trying to keep his horse safely in the three-hole. Tyler Buter had even more trouble following fourth along the pylons with Thunder Hunter Joe and briefly veered off following the half but did not interfere with Its A Me Mario, with Sears steering around the potential incident and losing no ground.

The outer flow stalled as Stratton kept the motor running on Captain Batboy as he passed three-quarters in 1:22.4 and fought off pressure from Annapolis Hanover. Seven Colors came wide, as did Bamboozler, but neither was able to fire, leaving the top three along the pylons with freedom to pace as hard as necessary. Gingras angled Strengthfromabove to the outside late on the final turn and made a race of it, but after passing the mile marker in 1:50.4, Captain Batboy still had a final sixteenth of seven seconds to his credit and held his rival at bay for the biggest win of his young career. Strengthfromabove was a clear second, with Thunder Hunter Joe pacing home well for third. American Fling, the early leader, faded to fourth, with Joemikiyoursofine (Scott Zeron) never leaving the pylons and gaining the fifth cheque.

"He races best on the front-end," said Stratton following the victory. "He was really sharp qualifying last week at the Meadowlands and was as good tonight."

As the 2-1 second choice, Captain Batboy returned $6 to win. The exacta was worth $40.60 and the trifecta paid $377.50. A 10-cent superfecta returned a healthy $113.65 with the favourite out of the money.

In the companion $115,000 Park MGM Pace for the fillies, Earthwindfire, the odds-on favourite, was able to clear to the point early on from post five for Tim Tetrick, posted fractions of :27.3, :56.1 and 1:24.2, and held on through the stretch to the wire, defeating pocket-sitter Ucandoit Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) by a nose in 1:53. Turn On The Charm (Marcus Miller) rallied from second-over to be third, followed by Treacherous Penny (Andy McCarthy) and True Blue Hanover (Jason Bartlett).

"It was a good effort," said winning trainer Brett Pelling. "She's a better chaser, but she's had a couple weeks now where she's been in front. She has great speed and I guess when they have speed, the drivers utilize it. She was good.

"I think her next race will be at Tioga, which is like two and a half weeks from now," he added.

Pelling trains Earthwindfire, a daughter of American Ideal bred by Stephen Dey III, for owners Mel Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable and Tulip Racing. Earthwindfire has a record of 9-4-0 from 14 starts and pushed her earnings to $436,250.

She paid $3.30 to win and was atop an $8.40 exacta and a $25.20 trifecta.

(With files from Yonkers Raceway; Photos clockwise from top left: Up Your Deo, Captain Batboy, Earthwindfire and Secret Volo)

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