Yonkers and Charles Town reverse roles on Saturday

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Ted Black

October 13th, 2017

While thoroughbred racing fans are accustomed to seeing the top runners compete during the afternoons and standardbred racing enthusiasts are used to seeing the best trotters and pacers compete at night under the lights, Yonkers Raceway and Charles Town will reverse those typical roles on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, Yonkers Raceway will host a lucrative, stellar card that features the Grade I, $1 million Yonkers International Trot along with a pair of $250,000 Invitational events, one each for trotters and pacers and eight $225,000 New York Sire Stakes finals for two- and three-year-olds of both gaits and genders. Then on Saturday evening, Charles Town will host the 30th anniversary edition of the West Virginia Breeders Classics, a nine-race card highlighting the best West Virginia-breds of all ages and both genders.

Saturday's opener at Yonkers is the $225,000 NYSS for two-year-old colt pacers and features one of the undefeated horses on the card. Hitman Hill (Brett Miller) has won all six of his starts and banked nearly $150,000 drew the coveted rail and looms the favorite against Casual Cool (Tim Tetrick), who sports a 5-2-1 slate and $137,000 banked from nine starts for trainer Linda Toscano, and Paprike Blue Chip (Jim Morrill, Jr.), who has won six of 11 starts and earned $166,000 for trainer John Butenschoen but got post eight.

Saturday's second race is the $225 NYSS final for two-year-old filly pacers and again the inside horses will prove tough to beat. Betterthangraduate (Matt Kakaley) has the rail for trainer Ron Burke, Azreal As It Gets has post two for trainer Jake Huff, Hurrikane Shorty (Jason Bartlett) has won four of eight starts but got post six for trainer John McDermott, Alexis Faith (Morrill) has won five of eight starts for Toscano but got post seven.

One race later in the NYSS final for two-year-old filly trotters, Plunge Blue Chip (Ake Svandstedt) will put her unbeaten record from six starts on the line when she leaves from post three and is the strongest of Svandtedt's uncoupled trio. Her main competition will likely come from railbound Supergirl Riley (Marcus Miller), a winner four times in eight starts, and Lima Royalty (Bartlett), who has won four of her six starts for Toscano.

Then one race later in the NYSS final for three-year-old filly pacers, Obvious Blue Chip (Scott Zeron) will get ample support from post two following a solid, third-place finish in the Jugette final. Angel's Pride (Jordan Stratton) has won six of 10 starts and gets post three, Roaring To Go (Brett Miller) will leave from post six for trainer Kevin Lare, Clear Idea (Mark Macdonald) has won nine of 19 starts this year but gets post seven and Tequila Monday has won eight of 19 starts and banked $350,000 but got post eight.

Two races later in the NYSS final for three-year-old colt pacers, Funknwaffles (Corey Callahan) looms the odds-on post favorite from post four following his second-place effort in the Grade I, $400,000 Little Brown Jug for Butenschoen. Cultural Paradise, who sports a 6-5-2 slate and $150,000 banked from 13 starts this year, rates the main threat from post five.

Then one race later Yonkers will present the inaugural edition of the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational for free-for-all pacers and it attracted a stellar field.

Sintra (Jody Jamieson) drew the rail and brings wins from 16 starts and earnings of $500,000, including a victory in the Canadian Pacing Derby; Somewhere In L A (Bartlett) owns a solid 10-4-5 slate and $480,000 banked this year nd 30 wins and $1.3 million banked from 109 career outings; Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) has won seven of 18 starts and earned $660,000 this year for trainer Rene Allard, including a victory in the $530,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Series final here in the spring; All Bets Off (Kakaley) sports a 4-4-3 slate and $500,000 banked from 21 starts this year for Burke and sports a 26-22-14 slate and $2.7 million banked in 98 career tries; Missile J (Tetrick) a winner eight times in 19 starts this year and last year; Bit Of A Legend N (Stratton), recent hero of the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway and brings a 7-4-3 slate and $485,000 banked from 22 starts this year and a 40-25-8 slate and earnings of nearly $1.9 million from 113 lifetime tries; Scott Rocks, who seems outclassed in this spot and Mach It So (David Miller) the durable, classy sort who owns a 3-4-4 slate and nearly $500,000 banked from 20 starts this year and a 37-19-13 slate and $2.2 million banked in 114 career tries but got post eight in the draw.

One race later the track will present the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational for trotters where one-half of the group looks capable of success. Railbound Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer) owns a 4-8-4 slate and almost $200,000 banked this year from 22 starts; Charmed Life (Brian Sears) is the lone mare in the field and brings a 6-6-3 slate and $200,000 banked from 19 starts this year and solid 28-31-20 slate and $1.25 million banked from 122 career tries; Crazy Wow (Yannick Gingras) has rebounded from a rough four-year-old campaign to post a 3-4-2 slate and $400,000 banked from 13 starts this year and a solid 18-11-5 slate and nearly $2 million banked from 55 career tries for Burke; Musical Rhythm (Macdonald) got post eight for trainer Mario Bellargeon, while Homicide Hunter (Miller) brings a solid 7-3-1 slate and $370,000 banked from 15 starts this year and 30 wins and $1.1 million earned in 59 career outings for trainer Chris Oakes and will leave from post 10 in the second tier.

Then one race later in the Grade I, $1 million Yonkers International Trot, defending champion Resolve (Svandstedt) will leave from post six and arrives with a 4-2-1 slate and $485,000 banked from 10 starts this year and a solid 18-17-9 slate and $2.6 million bankroll from 62 career outings and should go postward as the 8-5 favorite despite the draw.

Looking to post the upset are railbound Marion Marauder (Scott Zeron) who owns a 3-1-1 and $450,000 banked from seven starts this year and a solid 14-9-4 slate and $2.2 million banked from 35 career tries that includes last year's Grade I, $1 million Hambletonian; Oasis Bi (Kim Eriksson) gets post two and brings just one win from 12 starts this year but a 17-17-10 slate and $2 million banked from 80 lifetime outings; Twister Bi (Chris Eriksson) has won four of 11 starts and $530,000 earned and has won 20 of 49 starts and earned $700,000 lifetime; Midnight Hour (Ikka Nurmounin) a winner 13 times from 23 starts this year with 30 victories and $427,000 banked from 72 career starts; In Secret (George Brennan) has been the dominant force in the Open Handicap locally but gets post eight for Burke and On Track Piraten (Johnny Takter) has won six of 17 starts this year but boasts a 27-22-14 slate and $2 million bankroll from 116 lifetime outings and will leave from post 10 in the second tier.

Then one race later in the NYSS final for three-year-old colt trotters, Guardian Angel As (Jason Bartlett) has won eight of 16 starts and gets the rail; Stick With Me Kid (Sears) has post two; Eye Ofa Tiger As (Tetrick); Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) brings a 4-2-3 slate and $350,000 banked but gets post seven, while early season star Lord Cromwell (Brennan) has post eight. Then one race later in the finale for NYSS 3yoft, Celebrity Ruth (Bartlett) has the rail, Barn Bella (Jeff Gregory) has won 11 of 14 starts and banked $375,000 this year and drew post three, while Mamora Bay (Sam Schillachi), Chapter Too (Brennan) and Southwind Tisla (Stratton) will seek upset bids from posts five, six and seven, respectively.

While the Yonkers card will conclude several hours before it typically starts, Charles Town will present the West Virginia Breeders Classics at its normal post time although with a modest deviation in the typical schedule of events on the big night.

Saturday's opening race is the $75,000 West Virginia Dash For Cash for state-bred older runners and features two-time defending champion Greenway Court, an eight-year-old Windsor Castle gelding owned, bred and trained by James W. Casey. Looking to dethrone the champ are Eutaw Street, coincidentally the beaten favorite in this event a year ago; Cat Come Home and the durable mare Nay's Back, the second and third-place finishers in the It's Only Money Stakes here on September 23, the final prep for this event.

One race later the $125,000 Cavada Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares will shine the spotlight on Moonlit Song (Christian Hiraldo), the immensely talented homebred three-year-old filly for trainer Tim Grams who has won seven of nine starts this year, including an emphatic score against state-bred older distaffers in the $50,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes. Moonlit Song romped home seven lengths clear in the Sadie Hawkins and covered the seven panels that night in 1:25.87, a faster clocking than Tequilita posted while taking the Grade III, $300,000 Charles Town Oaks.

Looking to upend Moonlit Song in the Cavada are defending champion Candy Man's Girl and Jacky's Notion for Casey; T Rex Express for trainer Jeff Runco and the speedy Boppin Rocket, who thrives in one turn events here but has ample speed and could make things interesting for Moonlit Song early.

Then one race later in the $75,000 West Virginia Triple Crown Nutrition Stakes for two-year-old fillies, much of the focus will be on the undefeted Noblame, who has won all three of her starts for trainer Joe Sharp including an emphatic score in the $50,000 Rachel's Turn Stakes here last month. Five of her rivals here, Nellysford (second), Corky Punch (third), I Am Fuhr Real (fourth), Bound To Windsor (fifth) and Wolfblade (sixth) all exit the Rachel's Turn. See Ya Manana won her career debut for Runco but tries two turns and stakes for the first time.

Then one race later the state-bred two-year-old colts will be on display in the $75,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial, but the race is devoid of its two best prospects. William and Mary, handy winner of the $50,000 Henry Mercer Stakes, was never made eligible to the Breeders Classics and missed the supplement deadline, while Mercer runner-up Punch Your Brother is not eligible. Dionysus Chalice, third as the even-money favorite in the Mercer, looms the favorite again here for trainer Ollie Figgins, III, against Mercer chasers Owen's Way, True Heir, Binn Goode, Own's Mo, Mr. Jacoby and Grand Fiber. Our Biz makes is stakes debut.

One race later in the $75,000 West Virginia Division of Tourism for three-year-old fillies, Groomed To Rock, Gallant Calling and Charitable Heart all exit the same allowance race, while Tricky Windsor, Honeymoon Cruise, Scottish Denis and Unaquoi have ample stakes experience. Kathleen Elizabeth won her last allowance try. This race came up light when Moonlit Song opted for the Cavada and Lies And Scandals was inadvertently entered for the Distaff at nine furlongs.

Then one race later in the $75,000 West Virginia Lottery for three-year-old colts and geldings, much of the attention will be on Unrideabull, who brings a three-race win streak that includes victories in the Frank Gall Memorial against older runners and the Robert Leavitt Memorial for state-bred sophomores. This Michael Sterling homebred son of Bullsbay has plenty of speed and showed some late grit while outlasting older foes in the Gall.

Looking to post the upset in the Lottery are locals Aaron's Tap, Jacky's Notion, Brass Bull and Charitable Hero and New York invader Grumpelstiltskin, who graduated on New Year's Eve at Aqueduct against maiden special weight foes and has finished third in each of his last two allowance tries at Belmont Park and Saratoga for trainer Chris Engelhart.

Then one race later in the $75,000 Onion Juice, In The Fairway will seek his first win from seven starts this year for Runco and a hint of redemption after settling for third as the 3-5 choice in this event a year ago, while Help a Brother, a sharp second to Ello Govna in an allowance affair here on Sep. 23, was second in this event a year ago for owner-breeder-trainer Lewis E. Craig, Jr.

Speaking of Ello Govna, this Figgins trainee will look to stretch his talent to nine furlongs in the $350,000 Classic against 2015 Classic hero Charitable Annuity for Casey. Runco trainees North Atlantic and Weekend Liberty will look to fill the void left by '16 Classic hero Slip The Cable, euthanized after breaking down in an allowance race here in the spring. Follow The Notion won the Onion Juice last fall and three more races after that only to be disqualified for medication violations in his last three scores.

Then in the finale, Spa Creek will seek to defend her title in the $75,000 Distaff for Runco, while Romantic Cork, New London and Return To Denis will all attempt to score for the first time at the distance. Lies And Scandals may be the most talented horse in the field, but the John McKee homebred will try the distance for the first time after being inadvertently entered in this event instead of the WV Division of Tourism for three-year-old fillies where she would have been the 6-5 favorite.