BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 24, 2014—The storyline entering Saturday night’s eliminations for Yonkers Raceway’s Art Rooney Pace for 3-year-old colts/gelding was the undefeated He’s Watching.
The storyline leaving those races was He’s Watching (Jim Morrill Jr.) having to wait for another night.
Take nothing away from down-the-road, $40,000 elim winners Stevensville (Tim Tetrick, $21.60) and All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley, $2.30), who lead an octet into next Saturday’s $300,000 final. What transpired with He’s Watching, the 8-for-8 frosh divisional champion of a season ago, was totally unexpected.
Sent postward as the 10 cents on the dollar from post position No. 2 in his 3-year-old parimutuel debut, the New York-bred track-and world-record holder of last summer looked like he wanted no part of his work night. Taken a bit wide in the first turn, he settled loosely-pocketed as Stevensville—from post No. 6—led through early intervals of :27.3 and :56.2.
However, going toward the 1:25.1 three-quarters, Morrill was asking questions and not getting the required answers. Stevensville widened to win by 3¾ lengths in 1:53. Second went to 44-1 outsider Gold Rocks (Scott Zeron), with Bondi Hanover (Brian Sears) third. Fourth—and the final berth in the final--went to a break-recovering Unlocked (Brent Holland), with Forty Five Red (George Brennan) fifth and He’s Watching bring up the rear sixth, beaten 17¼ lengths.
For third choice Stevensville, a son of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by (trainer) Ray Schnittker, Paul Bordogna and Ryan Miller, it was his second win in three seasonal starts. The exacta paid $342, with the triple returning $1,249.
As for He’s Watching, “He just acted as if he wanted to run off at any time,” Morrill said. “I would have been happy sitting a two-hole, but I couldn’t get him to relax. I probably shut his air off, but there was nothing I could do.”
“It was an unfortunate set of circumstances,” co-owner/trainer Dave Menary said. “There didn’t appear to be any physical issues, but what happened happened. He’s too good a horse, and we’ll go back and see. I’m confident this is just going to be a blip on the radar.”
All Bets Off made short work of the second elim for the Rooney, leading—from post No, 3—through sub-sections of :27.1, :56.1, 1:25.1 and 1:52.3. The final margin was 2½ lengths over Some Playa (Brennan), with Ideal Fashion (Sears) third and Thereisapaceforus (Jason Bartlett) fourth and into the finale. Maxi Bon (Zeron) broke down while on the move down the backside and was distanced.
For All Bets Off, a statebred son of Bettor’s Delight co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stables and Rosemary Shelswell, he’s now 2-for-3 this season. The exacta paid $8.30, with no triple wagering.
“He was just solid from start to finish,” Kakaley said. “I popped the plugs and he took off.” Did he have any concerns after seeing the eventful doings of He’s Watching? “No, not at all. “
The open draw for the 23rd Art Rooney Pace is Tuesday afternoon.