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Morrill Triple Highlights New York Night Of Champions

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Published: September 26, 2010 1:44 am ET

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It should come as no surprise that Jim Morill Jr.--the state's leading sire stakes driver this summer--would be Saturday's two-legged star during Yonkers Raceway's presentation of the $1.6 million New York Night of Champions.

Morrill won thrice on the eight-race, $200,000 a pop docket of NYSS finals for two- and three-year-olds of both sexes and gaits. He bookended the program with the undefeated See You At Peelers (two-year-old filly pace) and the now twice-a-champ Hes Gorgeous (three-year-old colt and gelding pace). He also catch-drove Some Girls (two-year-old filly trot), who snapped Jezzy's perfect performance log.

"Peelers," getting stronger as the statebred season has progressed, wired her outclassed foes by 2-3/4 lengths in 1:54.2, matching the track record for this division. The 1-9 favourite ($2.20) whipped Eagle Kelly (George Brennan), with Winbak Corazon (Phil Fluet) third.

For See You at Peelers, an 11-for-11 Bettors Delight miss trained by Jimmy Takter for his wife, Christina, and John and Jim Fielding of Toronto, Ont., she's now banked upwards of $269,000.

"She has just outclassed the other fillies," Morrill said. "I've left with her every start, and she's always had something left."

Hes Gorgeous made it 17 wins in 23 career starts--and those pair of NYSS titles--with a gutty effort. Looped leaving by Joey the Czar (Jason Bartlett), then passed down the backside by Jimmie Hanover (Brennan), a resurgent Hes Gorgeous dove inside, prevailing by a neck over "Jimmie" in 1:53.2. "Joey" was third.

The 7-10 fave Hes Gorgeous ($3.40), a son of Art Major owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, has banked more than $635,000 ($385,000 this season).

"He's a funny horse," Morrill said. "The talent is obviously there, but sometimes I have to get it out of him. That was a super mile tonight."

"As I'm, watching the race, I'm yelling at the TV, 'Jimmy, don't give up on him'," Toscano said. "It's an honour to win the sire stakes two seasons in a row. The horse deserves so much credit."

Morrill, who kept one 10-race win streak alive, ended another as Some Girls went by a no-excuse Jezzy (Ray Schnittker). That one, off a minute-half in a gapped-out field, could not stall her entrymate. Some Girls won by a length in 1:58.2 (new track standard), with Imageofasweetday (John Stark Jr.) nearly eight lengths farther back in third.

For Some Girls (now eight-for-11), a Conway Hall lass trained by Gates Brunet for himself, Jean Brunet of Ottawa, Ont., Theodore Gewertz and Michael Rosenthal, her entry returned the minimum $2.10 while seeing her first-season bankroll go over $254,000.

"I wanted to see what would happen if we could sit on Jezzy's back," Gates Brunet said. "She's been an overachiever for us all season, but this is great."

Morrill's triple was undercarded by Jeff Gregory's double. Gregory, driving for Purple Haze Stables and Team Okusko (Jessica is trainer, Howie as able partner), won both trotting colt/gelding events, with the frosh Dejambro (track-record 1:57) before a successful statebred defense with Blacktuxwhitesocks in the soph colt event (1:56.3). Both are Credit Winners colts.

Dejarmbro, the star of the 1-5 favoured entry, grinded past a stubborn Surface Tension (Dan Daley), then held 32-1 shot Whitewater Rapids at bay by a neck. He returned $2.40 for his seventh win (sixth consecutive, all with Gregory) in nine starts, with earnings of close to $212,000.

"I figure to have to come first-up," Gregory said. "He went a big [:28.4] third quarter, but he's been a pro every time I've driven him."

As for the 7-10 choice "Blacktux," a cheap (:59) half and many early breakers made his night that much easier. He defeated Shaq Is Back (Schnittker) by 3-1/2 lengths, with Aruba Vacation (Fern Paquet Jr.) third. Blacktuxwhitesocks ($2.40) is now nine-for-15 this season, with earnings just under $290,000.

"He's just a good horse to drive," Gregory said. "Always fresh and ready to go"

Brennan, who earlier in the evening became the latest driving member of the $100 million dollar career earnings plateau, won the event for three-year-old trotting fillies behind even-money Tuesdays With Mom (1:56.3). Out in :57.2, "Mom" ($4.10) opened 2-1/2 lengths in the lane before holding off Frosty Flirt (Gregory) by three-quarters of a length.

The winner, 13-for-19 in her career, is up over $156,000 this season for owner/trainer/breeder Peter Arrigenna.

"I tried to get some separation, because I knew Jeff's filly would be coming," Brennan said. "She was tired, but she dug in."

Anndrovette (Bartlett), now five-for-five since she was sold, won the finale for three-year-old pacing fillies in 1:53.4.

Already a local track record-holder, she left around 3-4 choice Galimony (Morrill), then whipped that one by a neck.

For Anndrovette, a daughter of Riverboat King co-owned by (trainer) Mark Kesmodel, Joseph Davino and Jeffrey Bamond, she returned $5.60 for her seventh win in 14 seasonal starts. (earnings in excess of $309,000).

"I haven't driven too many fillies who can get around Yonkers like this one," Bartlett said. "I was able to get a soft [:29.2] second quarter, and that helped."

The biggest sire stakes surprise came in the two-year-old pacing colt/gelding event, as 10-1 Townslight Hanover (Stephane Bouchard) sustained a wide bid to snap Sir Ziggys Z Tam (Pat Lachance) late. "Townslight" won by a length-and-a-quarter in 1:54.

Townslight Hanover ($23.60), a Bettors Delight gelding owned by Ken Tucci and trained by Aaron Lambert, has won three of his four starts after beginning zero-for-five. His frosh fund is over $173,000.

"When I saw some quick fractions early [:26.3, :55.4], I felt we had a shot," Bouichard said. "[Aaron] has done a good job keeping him ready."

Owner and trainer have been down this road before, teaming to win the 2008 wild-finish Yonkers Trot with Napoleon.

Saturday night's $42,500 Open Handicap Pace was won by Giddy Up Lucky (Eric Goodell, $8.50) in 1:52.3.

By the way, the total 13-race handle was a season-high $1,406,546.

(With files from Yonkers Raceway)


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