There will be a lot of speculation after tonight’s first $40,000 preliminary round for the Art Rooney Pacing Series as He’s Watching, the 1/9 favorite and top rated three-year-old in 2014, spit out the bit in the backstretch and backed through the field to finish last at Yonkers Raceway Saturday.
Stevensville, driven by Tim Tetrick, who gave up his drives at the Meadowlands to come to Yonkers just to drive Stevensville, wired the field with ease to win in 1:543. Gold Rocks (Scott Zeron) was second with Bondi Hanover (Brian Sears) third.
The first four official finishers from each of the two elimination divisions return next Saturday for the $300,000 final.
The ninth race first division saw Stevensville and Tetrick leave like a rocket from post six and take the early lead. He’s Watching and driver Jim Morrill, Jr. left some but then beared out as Unlocked (Brent Holland) grabbed the two-hole spot.
But right after the first turn, Unlocked made a break and pulled out of the race, giving He’s Watching the garden spot behind Stevensville to the opening quarter mile in :27.3, then the half mile in :56.2. As they raced down the stretch, Morrill pulled the ear plugs on He’s Watching but the undefeated colt did not respond and left a gap between him and race leader Stevensville.
After the three-quarters in 1:25.1, Gold Rocks had come first-over and collared He’s Watching who was beginning to fade. Tetrick had Stevensville in full gear and down the stretch they held the field at bay and won by three and three-quarter lengths. At odds of 9-1, Stevensville rewarded his backers paying $21.60 to win.
It was the second win in three starts this year for Stevensville. The bay colt by Somebeachsomewhere was bred and is trained and co-owned by Ray Schnittker with Paul Bordogna and Ryan Miller.
He’s Watching, the 2013 Dan Patch Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year, is now no longer undefeated as he finish last in the six horse field. It was reported that He's Watching choked down leaving the starting gate and never recovered from it.
In the 11th race second Rooney elimination division, All Bets Off and driver Matt Kakaley, the 1/9 wagering favorite, did not disappoint as they literally wired the field to win with ease in a speedy 1:52.3.
Ideal Fashion and driver Brian Sears left from the rail but Kakaley also had All Bets Off on the move and they took command by the opening quarter mile in :27.1. Kakaley then backed it off with a :29 quarter breather to the half mile marker in :56.1.
Then in the backstretch, Some Playa (George Brennan) came first over with Maxi Bon (Scott Zeron) following the outside flow in 1:25.1 but Maxi Bon became rough gaited and went off stride. Kakaley then pulled the ear plugs on All Bets Off and the colt took off down the stretch to win with ease by three open lengths.
Some Playa come on for second with Ideal Fashion third and Thereisapaceforus (Jason Bartlett) fourth to make it to the final next week.
“He got around it (half mile oval) very well tonight,” Kakaley said about All Bets Off. “I drove him last week at Pocono and he was fine. We had no problems here. I pulled the plugs at the top of the stretch and he took off. We have a green light for next week.”
It was the second win in three starts this year for All Bets Off. The son of Bettor’s Delight is trained by Ron Burke and is owned by the Burke Racing Stable, F. Baldachino, the Panhellernic Stable and R. Shelswell. He paid $2.30 to win.
As was the case in the eliminations for Yonkers Raceway’s Art Rooney Pace, death-and-taxes favorites in the elims for the Lismore (3-year-old pacing fillies) were no better than a 50-50- proposition.
Southwind Silence (George Brennan, $2.90) was a handy, wire-to-wire winner in the first, $20,000 elimination. From post position No. 4, she threw down essentially equal halves (:28, 57.1, 1:26, 1:54) before winning by a length-and-a-half. Bettor Business (Dan Dube), last season’s upset New York Sire Stakes champ, snapped second over an-early-impeded Palm Beach (Jim Morrill Jr.). It Was Fascination (Scott Zeron) was far ahead of the misbehaving A Little Starstruk (Jason Bartlett), the former earning her place in next Saturday’s final.
For “Silence,” a daughter of Well Said co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Larry Karr and Joe DiScala Jr., it was her first win in two seasonal starts. The exacta paid $11.60, with no triple wagering.
The second elim for the Lismore saw inside number Also Encouraging (Brian Sears) sent off as the 35-cents on-the-dollar favorite. After moving from third, she secured the lead from Tyra (Morrill Jr.) at the :57.1 half (:28.3 quarter).
However, Also Encouraging had no resistance when Rusty’s Bliss (Jason Bartlett) came challenging. “Rusty” gained the lead just after the 1:26.4 three-quarters, but with no one behind her, Tyra—from post No. 2--was able to slip out….and slip by. Tyra whipped a stubborn “Rusty” by a length-and-a-half in 1:54.4. Gentlemen’s Delight (Dan Dube) was third, with Also Encouraging fading to fourth. That earned her a place at the table next week, but was of no solace those place pool bridge jumpers ($29,422 of the $32,153 on the beaten choice).
For Tyra, a daughter of McArdle owned by CC Racing and trained by Joann Looney-King, she returned $6.50 (second choice) for her first win in three ’14 tries. The exacta paid $105.50, with the triple returning $177. With the jumpers taking their leap, the place prices were $20.80 and $62.50, respectively.
The open draw for the $124,744 final of the Lismore takes places Tuesday afternoon.
By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com