In Three Acts: NY Night Of Champions

Published: September 23, 2018 01:39 pm EDT

What did we learn Saturday (Sept. 22) during Yonkers Raceway’s hosting of the Empire State’s richest night of racing, the 29th New York Night of Champions?

The $1.8 million event — comprised of eight, $225,000 sire stakes finals for juveniles and sophomores of both sexes and gaits — produced the expected, the unexpected, and the ‘it’s a good thing no one was hurt.’

ACT I — The Expected

Odds-on numbers Winndevie (Trond Smedshammer, $2.30), Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, $2.30), Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt, $2.20), Wisdom Tree (Tim Tetrick, $2.50) and Helpisontheway (Jim Morrill Jr., $3.50) delivered their short pari-mutuel promises.

Winndevie grinded by leader Quincy Blue Chip (Morrill Jr.), while winning the Crawford Farms Two-Year-Old Filly Trot in 1:59. The latter led through intervals of :28.2, :59 and 1:27.4, but couldn’t stall the first-over (from Post 2) foe, who prevailed by three quarters of a length. Sensibility (Jordan Stratton) was third, with Amal Hall (Andy Miller) fourth.

The daughter of Credit Winner, trained by her driver for owner Purple Haze Stables, is now 6-for-7 this season (3-for-3 at Yonkers), with earnings of $227,858. The exacta paid $8.50, the triple returned $42.40 and the superfecta paid $108.50.

Despite the win, Winndevie’s ‘date’ did not seem impressed.

“She wasn’t at her best,” Smedshammer said. “She’s much better in the turns than she was tonight. Very bumpy. She won because no one else was there with her.”

Smedshammer said Winndevie is eligible to the Breeders Crown, but “the way she was tonight, she’s better off out in the field.”

Gimpanzee made it 7-for-7 in winning the Agriculture and NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Trot in 1:56.3, which was a track record for ‘his weight class.’

From Post 5, he was third at the :28.2 quarter, then made the lead before a :58.2 intermission. He then finished it off by getting to three quarters in 1:27.1 and then on to the new track standard. Gimpanzee defeated Thunder (Jason Bartlett) by a half length, his narrowest margin of victory this season. Our White Knight (Miller) was third — some dozen lengths behind — with Horns For Three (Jim Maroon Jr.) fourth.

Gimpanzee, a son of Chapter Seven, saw his bankroll improve to $278,858 for co-owners Courant Inc. and S R F Stable. The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $3.40, the triple returned $11.40 and the superfecta paid $94.

“Very professional, very mature,” Sears said. “He knows what he has to do and goes out there and does it.”

“I knew all along he’d be a good one, from when he was training down,” trainer Marcus Melander said. “Just a good horse to be around.”

All-age track record-holder Plunge Blue Chip had nary more than a qualifier for money in the Allerage Farm Three-Year-Old Filly Trot. From Post 2 — and one Svanstedt’s five entrants in the race — she strolled early and lost ‘em late (:29.2, :58.1, 1:26.3, 1:55.3).

Plunge Blue Chip avenged last season’s poor sire stakes finale effort, as she rolled home by seven lengths. Lima Novelty (Morrill Jr.) was the best of the rest, with Ciao Dolce (Miller) and Fury Road (Dan Dube) rounding out the gimmick finishers.

Plunge Blue Chip, a Muscle Mass lass, has six wins, three seconds and thirds in 11 seasonal starts ($485,101). She is co-owned by her driver/trainer Blue Chip Bloodstock, Little E LLC, Tomas Andersson and Rick Zeron Stables.

Wisdom Tree was the best in her division coming in and coming out, as she easily won in Cameo Hills Farm Three-Year-Old Filly Pace. From Post 4, she worked around Newsday (Stratton) then had few issues (:27.4, :57.1, 1:25.2, 1:53.2).

Wisdom Tree defeated Newsday by a length and a half, with a first-up Alexis Faith (Morrill Jr.) third and Checkered Past (Bartlett) fourth.

It was the 11th win in 14 seasonal starts ($387,351) for Wisdom Tree, a daughter of Betterthancheddar co-owned by Thomas Pollack and Jeff Cullipher and trained by Ed Hart. The exacta paid $9.10, the triple returned $22.40 and the superfecta paid $63.50.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Hart said. “She’s been racing on the front every start, probably because she’s the best in there. We haven’t put her in a lot of the open stakes since we wanted to stay in the sires, but she’s eligible to one at Indiana (Hoosier), Northfield and the Matron (Dover), so she’s not done yet.”

As for Helpisontheway, he was certainly helped by Yonkers Trot winner Six Pack being ineligible to the final (not enough prelim starts). So, after having finished second in the ‘Trot’ and a Yonkers’ state-bred event, Helpisontheway had his way in the Morrisville College Equine Institute Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Trot.

Away fourth from Post 4, he watched Winning Shadow (Mike Simons) lead (:28, 57, 1:25.3) before he was put away by 50-1 Purpose Blue Chip (Dan Daley). Helpisontheway was towed behind the live longshot and went on to widen and win by two and a quarter lengths.

An out-the-mile The Veteran (Stratton) was second. Purpose Blue Chip, who outraced his odds, and Winning Shadow were respectively third and fourth.

Helpisontheway, a Chapter Seven colt trained by Linda Toscano for co-owners Camelot & Bay’s Stable and Little E LLC, has seven wins and four seconds in his 13 seasonal starts ($467,775). The exacta (two wagering choices) paid $15.40, the triple returned $188 and the superfecta paid $568.

“Versatility,” Toscano said. “He can leave and sit back the way he raced tonight.

“Last season (1-for-8), he was immature. Some two-year-olds just don’t get it. The ability was there. He just needed to figure it out.”

ACT II — The Unexpected

Reigning Deo (Morrill Jr., $42.20) closed from third-over and won the Agriculture and NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pace in 1:54.4. From Post 4 he watched as Hickfromfrenchlick (Tetrick) led through intervals of :28, :57.1 and 1:25.1. The Sheppard winner slugged it out with Melodies Magic (Tyler Buter), who surprisingly did not leave from the pole.

Deepest of all arrived Reigning Deo, who whipped ‘Melodie’ by a length and a half. Arties Ideal (Marcus Miller) was a pocket third and Hickfromfenchlick faded to fourth.

For fifth choice Reigning Deo, a son of Rock N Roll Heaven co-owned by (breeder) Deo Volente Farms, (trainer) Brett Pelling and Brian Gordon, it was his third win in seven juvenile starts ($193,712). The exacta paid $89, the triple returned $661 and the superfecta paid $2,355.

“We wanted to go through the (sire stakes) program with him,” Pelling said. “I mean, he’s always carried himself well. We weren’t planning to race him at Batavia (10 nights ago), but he was seventh in points, so we figured we needed to.”

They were correct, and rewarded.

Moneyshot Hanover (Buter, $10) ‘won the bob’ over So Awesome (Tetrick) in the Winbak Farm Two-Year-Old Filly Pace. So Awesome was the first leader before she gave it up to St Somewhere (George Brennan), who laid down the law (:27.4, :56) before making an ugly break down the backside the second time.

So Awesome then inherited the front of the fray and got down to the three quarters pole in 1:24.4. She owned a length lead into the lane, but Moneyshot Hanover was able to tag her at the line. Third went to JK American Beauty (Sears), with Hurrikane Norakane (Dube) fourth.

For third choice Moneyshot Hanover, a daughter of Art Major co-owned by (trainer) Mark Harder, Rick Phillips and Deena Frost, she is now 3-for-8 ($203,408) this season. The exacta paid $25.20, the triple returned $151.50 and the superfecta paid $750.

“She’s two fingers to drive,” Buter said. “She was bumpy around the last turn, but she dug in.”

ACT III — The ‘It’s A Good Thing No One Was Hurt’

The outset of the night’s final state-bred event, the Blue Chip Farms Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding Pace, was the sort of stuff one can’t unsee.

Pole-sitting 6-5 favourite Springsteen (Sears) was off the gate at the start, then hung a dead right, perhaps the victim of some equipment issue. Equipment or not, he impeded those who did not leave, including Heavenly Sound (Marohn Jr.), Rootin Tootin (Mark MacDonald) and Twin B Tuffenuff (Brennan).

Getting the worst of it was Ghost Dance (Morrill Jr.), who ended up locking wheels with Springsteen as both found their way to the back fence. That left three horses in contention, with Rockapelo (Bartlett, $11.40) moving from third down the backside the second time and taking over the lead.

From Post 4, he won by four and a lengths in 1:53.1. My Delight (Brent Holland) was second, with Ostro Hanover (Dube) third and Heavenly Sound fourth.

Neither two nor four-legged creature involved in the incident seemed any worse for wear.

For third choice Rockapelo, a Rock N Roll Heaven gelding trained by Toscano for owner Enviro Stables, it was his third win in 13 seasonal starts ($203,5452) and pushed Bartlett over the $100 million career earnings plateau. The exacta paid $82.50, the triple returned $482 and the superfecta paid $1,943.

“I didn’t see what happened, but I heard yelling and I know when you the inside and you go right, it’s not a good thing,” Bartlett said.

Saturday night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Pace and Trot were respectively won by Great Vintage (MacDonald, $45.80) in 1:52.2, and Yes Mickey (Bartlett, $5.60) in 1:54.2.

(Yonkers Raceway)

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