A closer look at the eight New York Sire Stakes divisional leaders and their biggest threats in the $1.8 million Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway September 22nd (first of eight parts).
THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT AND GELDING TROT
The Leader: Brookroad Knight, a gelded son of, out of Questionable Lady, by , owned by John O'Connor and trained by Bruce Borden.
It's hard to believe any trotter with CR Kay Suzie in their pedigree could fly under the radar, but Brookroad Knight did. He won five of nine starts as a two-year-old, but only earned $27,837.
Any thoughts that he'd have a major impact in the NYSS at three were tempered by the fact that many of his rivals made headlines, one after another. Delano set one track record and tied another. Thenwon the Yonkers Trot and finished fourth in the $1.5 million Hambletonian. There was also Coraggioso, who strung together three wins and two seconds.
But after finishing third and second in a pair of conditional trots at Tioga Downs, Brookroad Knight began to blossom. He won a division of the NYSS at Yonkers by 3 ½ lengths in 1:57.2, and followed that with a 1 ¼-length score in 1:53.4 in an NYSS division at Vernon Downs when he defeated Coraggioso, who finished second.
After a brief freshening, Brookroad Knight made several breaks in the NYSS at Monticello Raceway at 6-5. He atoned the following week at Saratoga, taking advantage of a break by Coraggioso to win his NYSS division by 6 ¼ lengths in 1:55.2.
By random draw, Brookroad Knight,and Coraggioso drew in separate $109,000-plus NYSS divisions at Yonkers, Tuesday, September 4th.
Corragioso, who had a trainer change from Phil Fluet to Gates Brunet and a driver change from Fluet to Brian Sears, was up first and won easily as the 1-5 favorite in 1:58.4. Corragioso, whose co-owned by track announcer Tom Durkin, is now six-for-12 in 2012 with three seconds and a third.
followed with a two-length win in 1:56.4, thanks to a :28.3 final quarter, at the lowest possible pari-mutuel odds of 1-20. That made him nine-for-12 this year with two seconds. His only finish out of the money was his fourth in the Hambletonian.
Brookroad Knight had the outside post in the six-horse third division, but was made the even-money favorite with Jeff Gregory driving him for the first time since earlier this year.
Brookroad Knight's chances were helped when the second choice, Trouble, made a break, but it's hard to believe that it would have made a difference.
Leaving like a rocket, Brookroad Knight immediately opened a four-length lead in a :29 first quarter. Slugfest struggled to maintain his position in the pocket as did Trouble in third before breaking. But Brookroad Knight increased his lead to 4 ½ lengths after three-quarters in 1:28, and crossed the wire 8 ½ lengths head of Slugfest, who saved second, in 1:57.1. Brookroad Knight's final quarter was :29.1 to complete a :58.1 second half for his fifth victory in 10 starts this year with a pair of seconds and one third.
"He did it on his own," Gregory said two days later. "I actually started the year off driving him, but I had a schedule conflict. I never picked him up again until Tuesday. I'm driving him from now on, at Batavia and then in the Finals. He's gotten better as the year's gone on. He's really developed into a good colt."
Is he good enough to beatand Coraggioso in the $225,000 Final? "He's going to need a little luck to beat and Coraggioso, because they're really nice colts, but he's not going to embarrass himself," Gregory said.
With just one NYSS race remaining, September 12th at Batavia Downs, Brookroad Knight has 208 points, eight ahead of, Coraggioso and Delano tied for second with 200. They're followed by Mado Dream (162), Gaelic and Garlic and Trouble (tied with 108), Slugfest (82), No Frosting (56), New York Attitude (51) and A Penny Earned (50). The top eight qualify for the $225,000 Final on the Night of Champions.
by Bill HELLER for The Agriculture And New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund