BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Friday, September 5, 2014—Yonkers Raceway Friday night hosted its final statebred division of the season, the $198,999 New York Sire Stakes Lew Barasch Trot for 2-year-old colts and geldings. It’s the last chance for these freshmen to qualify for the $1.8 million New York Night of Champions, held here next Saturday (Sept. 13).
Three divisions – worth $66,733, $65,533 and $66,733, respectively -- made up the event, which honored the memory of the iconic Hall of Fame harness publicist from the sport's golden age. Many of "Tootie's" family, including his wife, Bunny, and friends were on hand for winner's circle presentations.
Friday’s pair of $44,000 Open Handicaps, for trotters and distaff pacers, were won by Traverse Seelster (Tyler Buter, $4.90) in 1:54.1, and Venus Delight (Bartlett, $6.10) in 1:51.3. The latter matched Rocklamation’s track record for a 4-year-old pacing mare.
First division—Second choice Insomniac (Jason Bartlett, $7.20), from post position No. 4 and from start to finish (:30.1, 1:00.2; 1:29.3; 1:58.3). Crazshana (Trond Smedshammer) was a first-up second, beaten a couple of lengths, with Credit Creation (Mark MacDonald) third. Mambo Blue Chip (Jeff Gregory) broke in the pocket as the 6-5 choice.
For Insomniac, a Crazed gelding co-owned by (trainer) Paul Kelley and William Weaver III, it was his second win in nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $27.20, with the triple returning $121.50.
“I wanted him to finish better than he has, and he did that tonight,” Bartlett said.
Second division—Second choice Crazy Wow (Dan Rawlings, $8) gave both himself and his driver a successful local debut. From post No. 2, he led at every pylon (:30, 1:00.2, 1:30, 1:58.2). Wings of Royalty (Brian Sears) chased from a loose pocket—beaten 2½ lengths—with even-money fave Sugarmakesmecrazy (Ake Svanstedt) a non-threatening third.
For Crazy Wow, a son of Crazed owned by Joseph Hess and trained by Dan O’Mara, it was his third win in six ’14 tries. The exacta paid $23.80, with the triple returning $56.50.
“Dan (O’Mara) said he had a good trotter and asked me drive him,” Rawlings said. “He showed high speed, then broke, but he showed me enough that I told Dan ‘Wherever he goes, I’m going.’
“He’s had some rigging issues, but Benny Eggers, who has the horse here, figured it out. He deserves a lot of the credit.”
Third division—Pole-sitting (and odds-on) Buen Camino (Smedshammer, $2.30) fooled very few, going the distance (:29.4; 1:00, 1:30.3; 1:59.1). Royal Lad (MacDonald) challenged in and out of the final turn before missing a length, while 111-1 shot Pier Ho Exotic (John Cunning Jr.) was a good, two-move third.
For Buen Camino, a Crazed gelding trained by his driver for owner Purple Haze Stables, he’s 2-for-2 here and 4-for-6 overall, having won his last three (NYSS) starts. The exacta paid $23.80, with the triple returning $230.
“What’s impressed me about him is his speed,” Smedshammer said. “Speed wins races. Ideally, you don’t want to have a young horse on the front every race, but we drew inside and figured it was the best place to be.”
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 daily.