Day At The Track

Out of state owners are cashing in big-time

04:39 AM 14 Aug 2012 NZST
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The secret is out. Owners who live all over the United States and Canada are taking home huge New York Sire Stakes harness racing purses.

Last Wednesday through Saturday, 14 divisions of the NYSS were contested at Vernon Downs, Yonkers Raceway and Batavia Downs. Only two of the 14 winners were purely New York-owned: Ken Jacobs’ two-year-old pacing colt Doctor Butch and Steve Pratt’s two-year-old trotting filly Barn Babe.

The others? New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, South Dakota and Ontario, Canada.

“The New York Sire Stakes program is great,” said Andrew Stafford, who trains and co-owns his two-year-old colt Framed Art with his dad in Harrington, Delaware. Thursday night, Framed Art, a son of Artiscape, powered to a 2 ¼-length victory in the first of four $71,000-plus divisions of the NYSS Two-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace at Yonkers Raceway.

Framed Art went off the 6-5 second choice in a field of seven, made the lead with Mark MacDonald in :27 .3 and coasted to a handy victory in 1:55.1. Two weeks earlier, he broke his maiden in a $67,000-plus NYSS division at Saratoga in 1:53.4.

He now has two wins, a second and a third from five starts, and ranks third in NYSS points. The top eight point-getters earn berths in the $225,000 NYSS Final on the Night of Champions at Yonkers, September 22nd.

“I hope to God we’re there,” Stafford said.

Already, Framed Art has taken Stafford to places he’d never been. “This was my first time visiting Monticello, Batavia and Saratoga,” he said. “Everywhere I went, I’ve been treated like royalty.”

He just wishes those tracks were a bit closer to Delaware, where he campaigns 10 horses. “It’s a little hard for me, because it’s a lot of traveling,” he said. “Every track is six, seven hours away, except Yonkers.”

Are the trips worth it? “Absolutely,” he said. “We race for a lot of money and race pretty much each week. But it does take a certain horse to race on half-mile tracks.”

Framed Art is obviously one of them, and Stafford is certainly in the market for another New York-bred. “I’ll be looking at the sales, just because I’ve seen what the program entails.”

The subsequent divisions at Yonkers were taken by Jacobs’ Doctor Butch in 1:54.5; driver/trainer and co-owner Pat Lachance’s Sir Cary’s Z Tam in 1:54.4 and Swift As A Shadow in 1:57. Linda Toscano trains both Doctor Butch, a son of Art Major who now has four wins and two seconds in six starts, and Swift As A Shadow, a son of Bettor’s Delight who is now three-for-five with one third for Winbak Farm in Chesapeake City, Maryland.

Updated NYSS Standings

Two-Year-Old Pacing Colts and Geldings

1 – Doctor Butch, 175; 2 - Swift As A Shadow, 170; 3 – Framed Art, 142; 4 - Thirty Two Red, 133; 5 – (tie) Americasgottalent, 125; Deny Deny Deny, 125; 7 – Bet The Moon, 100; 8 – Story Book, 96; 9 – Tijuana Party, 87; Sir Cary’s Z Tam, 82.

Remaining Schedule: Friday, Aug. 17, Tioga; Thursday, Sept. 6, Yonkers; Saturday, Sept. 15, Yonkers.

Last Wednesday night at Vernon Downs, Connie and Homer Hockstetler and South of the Track Racing Stable in Illinois won the first of three $38,000-plus divisions of the NYSS Two-Year-Old Filly Pace with Ritascape, a daughter of Artiscape trained by Homer, though his good friend Larry Rathbone was listed as the trainer in the program. “We took her to Saratoga and she wasn’t quite set,” Connie said. “They wanted to race her at Vernon. We left her with Larry. He only had her four, five days.”

The Hochstetlers purchased Ritascape at the Harrisburg Sales. “We wanted to buy a trotter, which we did,” Connie said. “Then we went to look at this filly. Linda Toscano had her dam, Rita J. Homer asked her about Rita J., and she said he loved her. We’ve had a lot of luck with Artiscapes. We got her for $12,000. These people, South of the Track, Bill, Mark and Diana Hunter, asked if they could buy a third of her and a couple others and we said, `yes.’ Homer thinks she’s one year away from being a real good horse.”

She was good enough at Vernon to score in 1:52.4 in just her third lifetime start. But she may not be pointed to the Night of Champions. “I don’t think so,” Connie said. “We’re going to keep her on the bigger tracks.”

The Hochstetlers will continue to look for New York-breds at the sales. “Homer liked the program, and we just started buying at the yearling sales about four years ago,” Connie said. “So far, so good.”

Ritascape’s mark was the fastest mile by a two-year-old pacing filly at Vernon Downs this year, but it didn’t last an hour. Burke Racing Stable’s Summertime Lea, a daughter of Lislea trained by Ron Burke and driven by Jim Morrill, Jr., upped her record to four-for-five with one second with a 1 ¼- length victory in 1:52.2.

Park N Orchard, owned and trained by George Zitone, took the third division by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:53.3. The daughter of Art Major, who was driven by Brian Sears, now has three wins and a third in four starts and has moved up to seventh in the NYSS point standings.

Updated Standings

Two-Year-Old Pacing Fillies

1 – Summertime Lea, 225; 2 – Freetime, 145; 3 – Silk Pajamas, 135; 4 – Sea Major, 133; 5 – Give Me An Amen, 130; 6 – Brussels Hanover, 120; 7 – Park N Orchard, 100; 8 – JK Allthatjazz, 97; 9 (tie) - Jesse’s Lady, 95; Faster Faster, 95.

Remaining Schedule: Thursday, August 16th, Monticello; Saturday, September 1st, Batavia; Monday, September 10th, Yonkers.

On Friday evening at Batavia Downs, in the first of four $29,000 plus NYSS divisions for two-year-old trotting fillies, Steve Pratt-trained and owned Barn Babe continued her success with a 2 ¼-length win in 1:59.3 for driver John Cummings, Jr. Bran Babe, a daughter of Cash Hall, has three wins, two seconds and a third in six starts and is No. 1 in NYSS points.

The subsequent three division winners at Batavia had owners from Florida, Texas and South Dakota.

Fifty Shades, a daughter of Malibar Man owned in part by Eric Cherry in Florida, trained by Ross Croghan and driven by Shawn Gray, broke her maiden in her fourth start in a huge way scoring by 3 ¼ lengths in 1:59.4.

Bouncing Bax, a daughter of Credit Winner trained and driven by Jim Raymer and owned by Harbor Racing Stable in Houston, Texas, also broke her maiden in the next division in her sixth start. She won by a length and a quarter in 2:00, then had to survive a steward’s inquiry, which she did.

Morrill won the final division easily with Order By Credit, another daughter of Credit Winner trained by Jimmy Takter and owned by Order By Stable in Boras, South Dakota. She won her second race in her third start in 2:01.1.

Updated Standings

Two-Year-Old Trotting Fillies

1 – Barn Babe, 187; 2 – Crazy Grigio, 150; 3 – Order By Credit, 106; 4 – (tie) Proclaiming April, 105; Isabella Gal, 105; 6 – (tie) Bouncing Bax, 100; Royal Malinda, 100; 8 – Fifty Shades, 99; 9 - Lola De Vie, 97; 10 – Classic Paola, 92.

Remaining Schedule: Friday, August 31st, Saratoga; Friday, September 7th, Yonkers; Friday, September 14th, Tioga.

On Saturday night at Vernon Downs, Morrill won two of three $43,000-plus divisions of the three-year-old filly trot with 12-1 longshot Starglow Hall, trained by Chris Ryder and owned by Ryder and Terry and Clarence Devos of Langton, Ontario, Canada, in 1:55.2, and Anandamide, trained by Annette Lorentzon and owned by Aci Stuteri Ab in Paris, Kentucky, in 1:55.4. Favored For A Dancer, last year’s Two-Year-Old New York Sire Stakes Champion Trotting Filly, finished second by three-quarters of a length at 1-5.

The middle division went to the most impressive victor of the night, Win Missy B, trained and driven by Charles Norris for Robert Key of Leechburg, Pa. The daughter of Conway Hall, who is now 11-for-22 lifetime with more than $1.1 million in earnings, romped by 9 ¼ lengths in 1:54.4. In her previous start, she’d finished second by a neck in the Hambletonian Oaks at The Meadowlands.

Updated Standings

Three-Year-Old Trotting Fillies

1 – Cowgirl Hall, 208; 2 – (tie) Anandamide, 175; For A Dancer, 175; 4 - Fortunista, 162; 5 – Lima Playmate, 145; 6 – Kristins Victory, 130; 7 - Borrow And Spend, 117; 8 - Miss Fidget, 87; 9 – Montana Skies, 80; 10th – (tie) Whimzical Britt, 75; Starglow Hall, 75.

Remaining Schedule: Sunday, September 2nd at Tioga; Tuesday, September 11th at Yonkers.

by Bill HELLER

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