Millionairess Western Graduate, she wearing the sash as fastest female in the history of Yonkers Raceway, won Friday night's co-featured $42,500 Filly and Mare Open
Leaving from Post 6 (in one notch after an inside defection), Western Graduate (George Brennan) slipped in fourth as timid 5-2 choice Symphony in Motion (Jeff Gregory) left around Little Mermaid N (Stephane Bouchard). After a :27.2 opening quarter-mile and going toward the :56.1 intermission, Western Graduate made her second move.
She engaged the leader through and past the 1:24 three-quarters, then in and out of the final turn. Western Graduate was eventually able to get her way, going by early stretch and widening to a couple of lengths in 1:52.2. Outside assignee Cuz She Can (Yannick Gingras) rallied from last to snap second, with Symphony in Motion, Twin B Tiara (Dan Dube) and Little Mermaid N completing the cheque cashers.
For Western Graduate, a six-year-old Western Hanover miss trained by Lou Pena for KDM Stables, she returned $11.40 for her sixth win in 29 seasonal starts. Western Graduate's 1:51.3 effort here in late July is the local, all-age distaff record.
Friday night's co-featured $42,500 Open Handicap Trot saw KLM Express (Jim Marshall III), given the pole, pocket-protect and author a 23-1, rank outsider upset.
As one of four early leavers, KLM Express gave it up to Hurrikanebiggeorge (Bouchard) just after a 28-second opening two furlongs. That forced slight 5-2 fave Summertime Yankee (Brent Holland) into a three-hole, while Aachoo (Brennan) drove on.
Aachoo was about to grab the lead, when he threw in some steps. He recovered, chased first-up, then broke again. Meanwhile, Hurrikanebiggeorge found a :57.4 midway and 1:27 three-quarters, with Summertime Yankee taking his shot out of third.
Hurrikanebiggeorge maintained the slimmest of leads into the lane, but KLM Express ducked in and rolled, winning by a length-and-three-quarters in a life-best 1:56. Master Pine (Jason Bartlett) - last early and sixth turning for home - rallied for second, with Summertime Yankee, Bet to Win (Cat Manzi) and Hurrikanebiggeorge rounding out the payees.
For KLM Express, a five-year-old CR Excalibur gelding owned by Richard Aiken and trained by William Aiken, returned $49.40 for his fourth win 27 seasonal starts.
The $1.6 million New York Night of Champions goes Saturday night, with Yonkers Raceway hosting the richest night of racing in the state. Eight, $200,000 sire stakes finals--for 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits--comprise the 21st edition of the Empire State's showcase event.
The finales go as races 3 through 10 on the 13-race card, with first post at the customary 7:10 PM. There is also the ever-popular T-shirt giveaway, while supplies last.