First Set Of NY Champions Crowned

Published: September 13, 2015 12:35 am EDT

It was a dark and stormy night, but undeterred, Yonkers Raceway forged ahead for the first of two New York Nights of Champions.

For the first time since its inception in 1990, the eight New York Sire Stakes finals were halved. Saturday night, the Empire’s best three-year-olds had the marquee, with four, $225,000 sire stakes finals.

The NYSS events were each again sponsored by a prominent breeding farm.

Majestic View Farms Filly Trot

Second choice Jewels In Hock (Jim Morrill Jr., $6.20), leaving from post position No. 4, needed every bit of her lead. She was just sway against the relentless chase of last season’s divisional champ, 3-5 favourite Barn Doll (Jeff Gregory). The final margin, after fractions of :28.1, :57, 1:26. and a sloppy 1:56.3, was a narrow nostril, with both drifting late (though not near one another). Lady Winona (Jason Bartlett) was a pocket third.

For Jewels In Hock, a daughter of Credit Winner trained by Linda Toscano for KJ Stables, the win was her ninth in 17 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $12.20, with the triple returning $27.60.

“The advantage we had [over Barn Doll] was this filly can leave the gate,” Toscano said. “She hasn’t always been the easiest horse to work with and we’ve tinkered with the equipment, but she’s shown she has the talent.”

After the race, it was revealed Barn Doll had been sold to William Weaver III for an undisclosed amount, with Gregory taking over the training.

Cameo Hill Farm Filly Pace

Props to Bartlett, who launched Band Of Angels ($21.60) from an eight-hole and went the distance. She looped defending champ (and 2-1 choice) Mosquito Blue Chip (Morrill Jr.), forcing that one into a seat and a second move. Band Of Angels was able to rate early (:28.2, :58, 1:26.1, 1:54), then whip pocket-protecting Devil Child (Jimmy Whittemore) by a wet nose. Mosquito Blue Chip was a credible third.

For sixth choice Band Of Angels, a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven owned by W J Donovan and trained by Ron Burke, she’s now six-for-13 this season. The exacts paid $124.50, with the triple returning $458.50.

“I was going to duck her inside [Mosquito Blue Chip], but she was so good leaving, I just went on with it,” Bartlett said. “The half was cheap, even with the sloppy track and she felt strong. We beat some nice fillies in here.”

Morrisville College Equine Institute Colt/Gelding Trot

In bingo, Habitat (Morrill Jr., $2.70) would have been your proverbial free space. A Yonkers Trot champ last Saturday was a statebred champ this Saturday.

From post No. 3, Habitat saw Wings Of Royalty (Bartlett) grab the first lead, then did his thing (:29, :58.2, 1:28, 1:56.3). The final margin was a never-threatened length and a quarter over Wings Of Royalty, with Mythology Bluechip (Andy Miller) third.

For Habitat, a Conway Hall colt co-owned by trainer Burke (as Burke Racing), Weaver Bruscemi and Our Horse Cents Stable, the win was his eighth (fourth consecutive) in 15 ’15 tries. The exacta paid $13.20, with the triple returning $83.50.

“A training mile,” Morrill Jr. said.

Blue Chip Farms Colt/Gelding Pace

“He just shows up every start.” That’s what co-owner/trainer Tom Fanning appreciates about odds-on Betting Exchange (Bartlett, $3.70) after that one’s solid win in the finale of the sire stakes quartet.

Two-moving to the lead from post No. 5, he controlled the conversation (:27.1, :56.4, 1:24.4, 1:52.4), dispatching a first-up Rockin In Heaven (Trevor Henry) en route to a handy, three and a quarter length victory. Rank outsider Americanprimetime (Eric Carlson) skimmed the cones for second at 41-1, with first leader National Seelster (Miller) lasting for third.

For Betting Exchange, a son of Bettors Delight also co-owned by Howard Taylor and Susan Kajfasz, he’s now three-for-14 this season after beginning zero-for-seven. The exacta paid $77.50, with the triple returning $393.50. Scheduled superfecta wagering was cancelled after a pair of scratches, including the winner’s entrymate.

“We closed up his bridle and that’s made him more aggressive,” Fanning said. “He’s not waiting on horses anymore.”

The Raceway hosts New York Night of Champions (Part II) — four, $225,000 sire stakes finals for two-year-olds — Saturday night Sept. 26.

Saturday’s pair of $48,000 Open Handicaps were won by pacer Sapphire City (Jordan Stratton, $26.80) in 1:52.2 and trotter Luminosity (George Brennan, $10) in 1:55.2.

(With files from Yonkers Raceway)

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