Columbo, sans the rumpled raincoat, was the fastest frosh Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $120,250 final of the Lawrence B. Sheppard Pace for two-year-old colts and geldings.
The race again honoured the Hall of Fame founder of Hanover Shoe Farms.
From post position No. 4, Columbo and driver Eric Goodell had designs on leaving, but was caught wide early as the inside threesome all had the same idea.
Hunter Hill (Tyler Buter), as the 9-5 favourite, eventually worked around American Rebel (Pat Lachance), making the lead before a non-stressed, :29-second opening quarter-mile.
They weren’t going much (:57.4) to the half, either, when Columbo took out of fourth. He began to engage Hunter Hill after a 1:26.2 three-quarters, with Save Me a Dance (Jason Bartlett) working from second-over.
Hunter Hill was grudgingly giving up the ghost in and out of the final turn as Columbo put him away. The latter then held off Save Me A Dance to win by a half-length in 1:55.4. A from-last, eight-hole Manticore (Jim Marohn, Jr.) closed crisply for third at 36-1, with a tiring Hunter Hill and American Rebel settling for the smaller envelopes.
Level Up (Mark MacDonald), Han Solo (George Brennan) and a misbehaving-early lone gelding Freedom Warrior (Jordan Stratton) completed the order.
For third choice Columbo, a son of Sweet Lou owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Gareth Dowse, it was his second win in as many season/career tries. He did take down the fastest of last week’s three eliminations in 1:54.
“You never know how these races with two-year-olds are going to unfold,” Goodell said. “Before anything, you want to get around the first turn
“I thought about moving when Tyler (Buter, driving Hunter Hill) did, and I thought I made a mistake when I didn’t,” Goodell said. “When I did go with him, he was acting sort of goofy, sort of wanting to make friends with the other horses. He didn’t really seem to get it until late.
“I think he can move forward from here.”
Saturday night’s pair of $46,000 Open/Open Handicaps were won by Scott Rocks (Buter, $7) in a life-best 1:51.2 and Lord Cromwell (Bartlett, $12.20) in 1:53.3 – the fastest local trot mile of the season.