BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 25, 2014—Fair assumption that if you asked Ake Svanstedt which trotter he’d win a Yonkers Raceway stakes with Saturday night, Highest Peak would not have been his answer.
Under the category of “that’s why you race ‘em,” Highest Peak skimmed the cones in the $124,590 Hudson Filly for 3-year-old distaff trotters (1:58.2). Leaving from inside her five rivals, the good fortune came about—in no small part—by both halves of the quarter-on-the-dollar favored entry making breaks.
First, it was two-time New York Sire Stakes champ Market Rally (Jim Morrill Jr.), then Avalacious (Mark MacDonald). Market Rally recovered to grab the lead away from Highest Peak after the intermission (:30, 1:00), but despite soft fractions, the tough trip would end up biting her. After a 1:29 three-quarters and a length lead into the lane, she was done.
Highest Peak slipped inside, defeating Mistresswithmuscle (Tim Tetrick) by a length-and-a-half in 1:58.2. Third went to Bambino Supreme (George Brennan), with Yoga (Brett Miller) and the misbehaving entrymates bringing up the rear.
For third choice Highest Peak, a daughter of Andover Hall owned and trained by her driver, it’s her biggest win to date. She returned $18 (place prices were a wild $70.50 and $120) for her fifth win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $232, with no triple wagering due to the abbreviated number of wagering interests.
“She wasn’t herself at Lexington, but we worked on a few things and she was better tonight,” assistant trainer Bernie Noren said.
The soph pacing lasses were summarily dismissed by odds-on Act Now (George Brennan, $2.40) in the $150,854 final of the Lady Maud. Moving when ready from post position No. 2, she sashayed though intervals of :28.2, :56.4, 1:24.3 and 1:53. The lead, seven lengths in and out of the final turn, was a wrapped-up 5½ lengths at the wire.
Fancy Desire (Dave Miller) was second despite being out the mile, with Beautiful Lady (Matt Kakaley), Anagada (John Campbell) and Do Your Job (Eric Carlson) settling for the remainder,.
For Act Now, a Western Ideal miss co-owned by Joseph Davino & Patrick O’Brien and trained by Nick Drennan, it was her fifth win in a dozen seasonal starts. The exacta paid $9.20, with the triple returning $30.40.
“She seemed a bit hot and was hitting the bike, so I probably went faster with her than I wanted,” Brennan said. “She just has a lot of talent. I drove her as if she was the best, and she was.”