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American Mercury Rises In Messenger

Published: August 31, 2019 10:07 pm ET

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Positioned behind 1-9 favourite, American Mercury waited for racing room and managed to slip through a seam in the stretch to nail Bettors Wish on the finish and upset the $500,000 Messenger Stakes on Saturday, Aug. 31 at Yonkers Raceway.

American Mercury showed speed from the inside but settled for the pocket to Bettors Wish circling the first turn. Bettors Wish then paced uncontested through a :27 opening quarter and a :55.3 half.

U S Captain kicked first over from fourth with a lap to go and pressed forward to match strides with Bettors Wish when passing three-quarters in 1:23.3. Bettors Wish rebuffed the challenge rounding the final turn as American Mercury raced tightly from the pocket moving to the top of the stretch. A gap opened inside as Bettors Wish grew leg weary, allowing American Mercury to dart through and stick a head in front to stop the clock in 1:51.3. U S Captain finished third.

“He was super sharp coming into the race,” winning driver Tyler Buter said after the race. “First and foremost I owe Chris [Oakes] a big thank you for giving me a shot on this horse. It’s been a fun ride all summer driving him and travelling in New York. He definitely came through tonight on the big stage what he can do.

“I came off Dexter’s helmet there and he kicked on the gas and I think that was the winning move because if I stayed there, Dexter [Dunn on Bettors Wish] was probably going to back into me as much as he could. So as soon as I came off his helmet Dexter stepped on the gas and I was able to back down to the inside and find a little room late. This horse has been going forward at the wire all year. He hasn’t let me down and he came through again tonight.”

Owned by Crawford Farms Racing, Northfork Racing Stable, Chuck Pompey and Scott Bice, American Mercury won his seventh race from 10 starts this season and his ninth from 17 overall, earning $508,463. Chris Oakes conditions the gelded sophomore son of American Ideal who paid $16.20 to win.

“He was kind of a big growthy two-year-old and he had a lot of ability,” Oakes said after the race. “We loved him training down and quite honestly he wasn’t as good as I thought he would be at two even though he raced some pretty good miles. Bringing him back at three he was training good but I just thought that he’d probably be more focused for racing as a gelding. We made that decision and honestly I really think it helped him a lot. He means business now; he’s focused.”

Be sure to check out the rest of the recaps from Saturday's stakes-packed card in SC's News Centre

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