Post positions were drawn Tuesday for Saturday's $1.8 million New York Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway. Eight $225,000 divisional finals--for 2- and 3-year-old of both sexes and gaits--comprise the richest night of racing in the state. The races go as Nos. 2 through 9 as part of Yonkers Raceway's 13-race card, with first post at the customary 7:10 p.m. The 23rd edition of the Night of Champions again has each of the races sponsored by a prominent Empire breeding farm or ownership group.
Here's a quickie, hot-off-the-presses overview:
2nd race--Crawford Farms 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot--Divisional points leader Tirade Hanover drew well (Brian Sears, post 2) as he goes after a fifth consecutive victory. Company comes in the form of pylon-sitting Fashion Blizzard (Jim Morrill Jr.) and Royalty for Life (Jason Bartlett, post 5), both, like Tirade Hanover, six-figure summer earners.
3rd race--Morrisville College Equine Institute 2-Year-Old Filly Trot--Barn Babe led all lasses during the season, but needed better friends with the open draw. John Cummings Jr. joins her behind the eight-ball. They have their work cut out, what with Lady Riviera (Morrill Jr., post 1), four-wins-in-a-row You Want Me (Tim Tetrick, post 2) and Isabella Gal (Sean Bier, post 6) all in the competitive mix.
4th race--Winbak Farm 2-Year-Old Filly Pace--Summertime Lea (Morrill Jr., post 2), she of the 7-for-8 resume and more than $182,000 this far this season, is joined as a Ron Burke-trained entry with Silk Pajamas (Sears, post 8). Give Me an Amen (Tetrick, post 6) and Freetime (Andy Miller, post 7) have each won half of their eight seasonal starts.
5th race--Cameo Hills Farm 3-Year-Old Filly Pace--Defending sire stakes champ Handsoffmycookie (Tetrick, post 2) and Romantic Moment (Sears, post 6) shared the clubhouse lead in points during the summer. "Cookie" has never lost here (6-for-6) and becomes a career millionairess with a victory, while Romantic Moment enters with three consecutive wins, including the $350,000 Valley Forge down in Philly. Major Look (Miller, post 1) has seven wins and upwards of $264,000 to her credit this season.
6th race--Kenneth J Syndicate LLC 2-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace--Trainer Linda Toscano offers up a three-headed monster in points leader Doctor Butch (Tetrick, post 3), Swift as a Shadow (Morrill Jr., post 6) and Deny Deny Deny (Morrill Jr. also listed, post 8). "Butch" has seven wins and three seconds in 10 seasonal starts, and is the fastest (1:52 at Tioga) and richest ($210,024) member of this subsection.
7th race--Stirling Brook Farms 3-Year-Old Filly Trot--Millionairess Win Missy B (Sears, post 4) had never sniffed a small track before her last start, and all she did was obliterate the local track standard (1:54.4) for this group. Cowgirl Hall (Morrill Jr., post 3) and Fortunista (George Brennan, post 7) each have six wins on their seasonal resume, while Kristin's Victory (Steve Smith, post 1) and '11 frosh champ For a Dancer (Jeff Gregory, post 6) have also enjoyed much success.
8th race--Allerage Farm 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot--Archangel, he of Yonkers Trot, world record and all-age track-record-matching fame (1:54.1), outdrew no one here. With 10 wins and a pair of seconds ($714,236) in 14 seasonal starts (including 5-for-5 in sires), he's the obvious horse to beat despite the impost. Morrill Jr. takes his regular seat. Brookroad Knight (Gregory, post 2), Mado Dream (Brennan, post 5) and Coraggioso (Sears, post 6) all enter sharp as well.
9th race--Blue Chip Farms 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace--Defending NYSS champ Heston Blue Chip (Tetrick, post 6) is 20-for-24 lifetime, including 9-for-11 this season and 4-for-4 in sire stakes company. While he's spent time outside of the Empire, Forever Just (Gregory, post 7) tackled the Thruway and was the points leader. Major Bombay (Morrill Jr., post 1) is also entered in Thursday's Little Brown Jug, while Joe Pavia Jr. as trainer has a pair in Steelhead Hanover (Sears, post 4) and Bet on the Law (Morrill Jr. also listed, post 5). (Yonkers)