Lumberjack Willie (Jordan Stratton) prevailed from the two hole Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $33,000 Open Handicap Pace.
Assigned post position No. 2, he was sequestered second behind 7-10 choice Sapphire City (Eric Carlson.) That one led through early intervals of :27.3 and a flat 57 seconds.
Not a whole of grief from a first-up Safe Harbor in and out of a 1:25.1 three-quarters, and Sapphire City owned a length-and-a-half lead into in the lane. However, the people's preference was unable to close the sale. Lumberjack Willie dove inside, and Escape the News (George Brennan)--who was gapping Safe Harbor down the backside--saw the memo late. "Willie" beat Escape the News by a length in 1:52.4. Third went to a closing P H Supercam (Jason Bartlett), with Sapphire City and Dinner Guest (Dan Dube) completed the cashers.
For Lumberjack Willie, a 7-year-old Lumber Hanover gelding owned by Tom Ceraso Jr. and trained by Jack Franklin, he returned $12.40 (third choice) for his first win in a two seasonal starts. The exacta paid $48.80, with the triple returning $321.
The race before the Open Handicap saw the largest exacta of the new season. After 16-1 Grab Your Keys (Stratton) held off 96-1 Militia Man in the $15,000, fifth race pace, the 5-8 gimmick returned $2,413.
Saturday night props to Nob Hill High (Carlson, $18), who became harness racing's newest millionaire. The homebred (Robert Mondillo & Donald Robinson) 8-year-old son of McArdle, trained by Bruce Saunders, skimmed the cones to win the $20,000, ninth race pace. The 34th lifetime victory was timed in 2:01.3 for the mile-and-one-sixteenth. (Yonkers)