BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 25, 2014—If there was horse who had some ‘splainin’ to do coming into Saturday night’s 59h edition of the Messenger Stakes, it was All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley). A dull effort in last week’s lone Yonkers Raceway elimination race—tiring on a soft lead and finishing fourth—certainly lessened the load on his bandwagon.
Those who stayed on the ride were rewarded, as the New York Sire Stakes champion gave nothing else a chance, winning the final jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown for 3-year-olds in a snappy 1:51.1.
Leaving from post position No. 6 (“No way I was ducking him tonight,” Kakaley said), he scorched the scenery (:26.3, :55.1, 1:23) en route to the fastest edition of the Messenger held here.
McWicked (Dave Miller), as the 1-2 favorite, was unhurried leaving into a four-hole, but never came close to the leader/winner when making his second move toward the three-quarters. That compromised last week’s elim winner Luck Be Withyou (Tim Tetrick), who went wide early and finished well, but not nearly well enough.
All Bets Off, up four lengths turning for home won by 2 ¾ lengths over Luck Be Withyou, with McWicked (now a seasonal millionaire) settling for third, beaten 6½ lengths. Lyonssomewhere (Brett Miller) and 133-1 shot Western Conquest (Brent Holland) earned the final two pay envelopes, with National Debt (Jason Bartlett), winner’s entrymate Forty Five Red (George Brennan) and Stevensville (Mark MacDonald) rounding out the order.
For All Bets Off, a $7,000 (Harrisburg) son of Bettor’s Delight co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stable and Rosemary Shelswell, he returned $11.80 (third choice) for his 11th win in 15 seasonal starts. The $250,000 payday makes him a career millionaire ($1.095,292). The exacta paid $54.50, with the triple returning $95.
“He was just flat last week (elim), and I think what Ronnie (Burke) said was correct. It was just his second race in five weeks, and it showed,” Kakaley said. “Tonight, he was the horse I’m used to driving. It’s by far the biggest win of my career.”