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Judge Joe Doles Out Discipline In Yonkers Trot


Published: August 30, 2009 12:06 am ET

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The driver never moved, the trainer was home sick and his newest horse was just plain sick. Judge Joe, with Hall of Famer Ron Pierce doing the honours, made a mockery of Saturday night's 55th Yonkers Trot and its $670,774 purse.

Pierce and "Joe" outdrew their seven rivals, then outclassed them, negotiating Yonkers Raceway in 1:56.1. It was Pierce's second Trot win (American Winner in 1993) and the first for his new trainer. Neighsay Hanover (Cat Manzi) snapped second over Calchips Brute (Jim Morrill Jr.), with Citation Lindy (Ray Schnittker) and Broadway Bistro (Jason Bartlett) completing the cashers.

But there was no way to slow "Joe" once the starter said "go."

Sent postward as the 7-10 favorite, Judge Joe--making his first start since being purchased by European connections--left hard. He had company in the form of Select Yankee (Stephane Bouchard) and Calchips Brute. "Joe" found the opening quarter-mile in :28.2, with no designs on giving up the throttle. Truth in Action (Mike Lachance) broke trying to keep the hole closed, allowing Calchips Brute to drop in.

So, the "Judge" and the "Brute"--a pair of New York-breds--were first and third, respectively, by the :58.3 intermission. Select Yankee was hung and Citation Lindy was second-up.

Judge Joe steadily widened to a length-and-three-quarters at the 1:27.4 three-quarters, taking a 2 1/4-length lead into the lane.

Calchips Brute couldn't stay with him, and the team of Pierce and Takter--denied this race when Holiday Credit broke in deep stretch on an open lead a seasons ago--were home free (actually, Takter was home, but why quibble?). The final margin was 3-3/4 lengths.

Select Yankee, Truth In Action and Celebrity Athena (Marcus Johansson)--who broke the half--rounded out the order.

For Judge Joe, a three-year-old son of Credit Winner now owned by Atlantic Trot, he returned $3.40 for his seventh win in 10 seasonal starts (14-for-22 lifetime). The career cash is now approaching $840,000. The winner led a $13 exacta and $35.40 triple.

"My plan wasn't necessarily to park anyone who left," Pierce said. "When I saw a couple of other outside of me leaving, I didn't want to get locked in, so I just let him roll.

"I was originally going to drive Trond Smedshammer's colt [Neighsay Hanover], but Jimmy [Takter] called me about five minutes later and it really wasn't much of a decision.

"It may have been the first time I drove him, but I've seen enough of him to know how talented he is. The Ackermans did a great job with him."

The winner was bred, owned and exclusively driven by Team Ackerman (Doug and Doug R.) up to, and including, his win in last week's elimination race.

"I hope Jimmy enjoyed this watching at home, and I really hope he takes back some of the bad things he's been saying about me," Pierce said, trying--and failing--to look serious.

Saturday night's undercard was highlighted by the $327,985 final of the Hudson Filly Trot. Windsong Soprano (Pat Berry) kept her head when all others around her were losing theirs.

She left from post position No. 7--along with last week's pair of eliminations winners in Yursa Hanover (Jeff Gregory) and Seaside (Bartlett). However, both 2-5 "Yursa" and Seaside blew up in the first turn, and thus went any suspense.

Windsong Soprano waltzed through intervals of :29.1, :58.4 and 1:27.3, before winning by four lengths in 1:56.3. Hall of Wishes (Bouchard) and Whispering Wind (Smedshammer) rounded out the ticket.

For "Soprano," a daughter of Triple Crown winner Windsongs Legacy trained by Bob McIntosh for owner Lothlorien, she returned $16.80 (fourth choice) for her sixth win in nine '09 tries. The exacta paid $170.50, the triple returned $1,766, and the superfecta (Sea Raven and Greg Grismore was fourth) returned $34,289 in some smaller wagering increment.

"I had no idea either horse was about to break," Berry said. "I was hoping to just get in behind Jeff's filly [Yursa Hanover] and take my chances from there."

Berry has now won this race twice in the past three seasons (Vulcanize in 2007), both identical (YR stakes record) 1:56.3 efforts and both with McIntosh trainees.

Saturday's card also included the $216,252 New York Sire Stakes Art Major Pace for three-year-old colts and geldings. The barbershop quartet of divisions, worth $53,313, $54,313, $54,313 and $54,313, respectively--were won by:

  • Handsome Harry (by Dream Away); co-owners Ralph Del Priore, Jr. & Harry Doyle/trainer Mark Ford/driver Morrill Jr.; 1:54.3/non-bettor;
  • Go Go Solano, g (by Bettors Delight); co-owners Richard Lombardo & Pasquale Rizzo/trainer Mark Capine/driver Manzi; 1:55/$4.40;
  • OK Braveheart, g (by Bettors Delight); co-owners David Scharf, Richard Phillips, Chuck Pompey/trainer Chris Oakes/driver Morrill Jr.; 1:53.3/$2.80;
  • Hypnotic Blue Chip (by Art Major); co-owners (trainer) Mark Harder, Deena Rache; Frost, Robert Murphy,Stable 45/driver Morrill, Jr., 1:53.4/$2.50.

By the way, Saturday night's total handle was a season-high $1,090,228.

(Yonkers Raceway)

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