BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, September 5, 2015—The fact that 7-10 favorite Habitat (Brian Sears, $3.40, part of entry) easily won Yonkers Raceway’s 61st Yonkers Trot Saturday night is the lead, but there were so many sidebars, where do we begin?
Let’s not gloss over the champion, however. Habitat—from post position No. 5—made short work of his seven rivals in the half-million-dollar second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown. After his entrymate, Crazy Wow (George Brennan) broke early directly outside of him, Habitat worked the lead around pole-sitting Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer).
Hambletonian winner Pinkman (Yannick Gingras), in play from post No. 7, found a very predictable seat in front of stablemate/entrymate French Laundry (Corey Callahan).
The early fractions (:27.4, :57) played into the hooves of the leader. First to move (from fifth) was Southwind Mozart (Dan Dube), and when he did, out came French Laundry. That one was just trotting in place, dutifully waited for Pinkman to extricate himself from cones.
He did, going after Habitat toward the 1:26 three-quarters. Habitat, for his part, said good-bye to everyone soon after, opening a four-length lead entering the lane. The final margin was 3½ lengths in 1:54.4…second-fastest Trot contested here (Archangel’s 1:54.1 in 2012 remains the local 3-year-old trotting colt record).
Pinkman crossed the line second, with Southwind Mozart third.
As for Pinkman—gingerly-handled late in his elimination a week ago—he bore in during the final turn here, getting too close with Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer). That forced Billy Flynn (Jason Bartlett) off-stride and inside the cones. It took Smedshammer to lodge an objection, leading to a prolonged review.
After which, Pinkman was set down from second to fifth for interference, while French Laundry (his betting buddy), who crossed the line fourth, was, by rule, placed sixth (behind the affected Billy Flynn). That moved Southwind Mozart up to second and Buen Camino up from fifth to third.
Billy Flynn was placed fourth, with misbehavers Workout Wonder (Mark Macdonald) and Crazy Wow rounding out the order.
For Habitat, a elimination-winning 3-year-old son of Conway Hall, co-owned (as Burke Racing) by Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Our Horse Cents Stables, it was his seventh win 14 seasonal starts ($570,434). The exacta paid $30.40, with the triple returning $74.50.
“I was able to get Pinkman behind me. I knew he struggled a bit last week,” Sears said. “My horse is a handy horse. I had driven four of the eight horses in the race, so I knew the competition very well, which always helps.”
Sears won his second Trot, but his first here (Strong Yankee, 2005 [Freehold]). After winning the Hambo catch-driving Pinkman, he has the distinction of taking the first two-thirds of the Crown with two different horses.
As for the chances a completing a Sears-driven Triple Crown in the Oct. 10 Kentucky Futurity, “Nope. I plan to be here with Bee a Magician in the International Trot.”