BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 19, 2013--China Grill (Pat Lachance) justified the endorsement of the electorate Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $37,000 Open Pace.
Winning the blind draw as the 11-10 favorite, China Grill retook from Eighteen (Jordan Stratton) before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, a :55.3 intermission as Bettor's Reward (Jim Marohn Jr.) moved from fourth. All Speed Hanover (Brent Holland) was on that tow at the 1:23.3 three-quarters, with China Grill widening to 2 3/4 lengths
He kept his rivals at bay, winning by a length-and-a-quarter in a life-best 1:51. Pan from Nantucket (Eric Goodell, five winners on the 12-race card) closed to grab second, with Eighteen, Escape the News (George Brennan) and All Speed Hanover rounding out the payees.
For China Grill, a 5-year-old Shanghai Phil gelding trained by his driver for owner Lawrence Litwin, he returned $4.30 for his sixth win in 19 seasonal starts. The exacta (two wagering choices) returned $8.50, with the triple returning $59.
Special props to the millionaire Lucky Man, who made his 150th career start his 30th career win. Goodell drove the 8-year-old Camluck gelding ($32.40) in the $19,000, second-race, an off-the-pace win in 2:01.4 for the mile-and-one-sixteenth.
Saturday was also the Fifth Annual Fall Harvest Festival, highlighting the thriving relationship between agriculture and horse racing throughout New York State. A host of fun, family-friendly events adorned the apron, while the annual Legislators’ Challenge featured 10 of the state’s elected officials in non-wagering—but ultra-competitive—battle.
Assembly Member Andrew Garbarino (R-Suffolk) won the "rookie" division with Cockney Hanover in a first-up 2:11.4. Holland was also there, offering minimal assistance.
Assembly Member Keith Wright (D-Harlem) crossed winning a Legislators' Challenge off his bucket list, teaming with Strong Signal (and, to a lesser extent, Bartlett) to win the "veterans" division from the pocket in 2:11.3.
Assembly Member Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), a winner a year, joined with Kandi Chip (and Bartlett) to whip a pair of other previous winners--Assembly Member Joe Saladino (R-Massapequa) and Assembly Member Gary Pretlow (D-Mt. Vernon) in a night's-fastest 2:09.4.
There was also a Racing Under Saddle exhibition, with John-Michael and Mary Dolce Conti giving nothing else a chance. The pair teamed to win the mile-and-one-sixteenth event by 9¼ lengths in 2:15.
The Raceway's five-night-per-week live schedule continues, with first post every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:10 PM. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.