BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, February 20, 2016—Second choices Major Athens (George Brennan, $6.50) and Polak A (Brian Sears, $7.30) were second to none Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway’s pair of $32,000 Open Handicaps.
Major Athens won the week’s featured trot after being pocketed from assigned post position No. 6.
He watched as Red Hot Herbie (Dan Dube) led through intervals of :28.3, :58.4 and 1:28. It was “Herbie” taking a length-and-a-half lead into the lane while being pestered by 13-10 choice Money Maven (Sears). That one slipped off the cones from third, engaging in and out of the final turn.
Money Maven continued well and fought the good fight, but was tripped up by a cone-skimming Major Athens. The latter whipped the former by a nose in 1:56, with Home’n Dry (Jordan Stratton), Dot Dot Dot Dash (Matt Kakaley) and Crazshana (Jason Bartlett) settling for the remainder.
For Major Athens, a 6-year-old son of Andover Hall owned by Howard Taylor and trained by Tom Milici, it was his second win in four seasonal starts. The exacta paid $21, with the triple returning $144.50.
The week’s marquee pace had a three-move effort from Polak A. Away third from his ordered post No. 5 venue, he trailed both 4-5 fave Roland N Rock (Dube) and Hugh Hefner N (Stratton) in a gapping octet.
“Roland” sped away (:27.4, :56.3, 1:24.3) while “Hugh” lost touch in the pocket. That allowed Polak A a rest stop when he moved toward the leader. Roland N Rock had a couple of lengths turning for home, but Polak A was sizing him up and easing past.
He won by a length in a season’s-best 1:53. Third went to Atta Boy Dan (Brennan), with Phil Your Boots (Tyler Buter) and Bad Boy Matt (Mack MacDonald) grabbing the minor moolah.
For Polak A, a 7-year-old Down Under Pacific Fella gelding co-owned by many Bellinos and trained by Tony O’Sullivan, he’s now 3-for-5 this season. The exacta paid $10.60, the triple returned $94.50 and the superfecta paid $646.
Saturday’s Pick 5, buoyed by a double-carryover of just over $9,400, attracted $24,891 of new money. The winning combination of 6-5-3-6-8 returned $2,552 for every correct half-a-buck ticket.
The Raceway’s season continues Monday night (post time 7:10 PM), with a dozen races and a $10,000 guaranteed Pick 5 pool (50-cent base wager, races 7 through 11).