Jason Bartlett won five races at Yonkers Raceway Saturday night...oh, including a stakes race of substance.
Bartlett and the New York-bred Ronny Bugatti outgamed a stubborn Sunfire Blue Chip (Yannick Gingras) on the money, winning the $450,000 final of the Messenger Stakes--final jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown--for 3-year-old colts and geldings.
Leaving from post position No. 2, "Ronny" made the first lead before yielding to 11-10 choice Word Power (George Brennan). While that was happening, last week's two elimination winners, Sunfire Blue Chip and Lucan Hanover (Dave Miller), leaving from posts 7 and 8, respectively, were looking for seats.
Sunfire Blue Chip found one in third, while there was no room at the inn for "Lucan."
Word Power made the lead just after a :27.1 opening quarter, It was in Turn Two that "Sunfire" made move two, going after the lead toward a soft :56.4 half. Word Power and Sunfire Blue Chip threw it down in a :26.4 third quarter (1:23.3), with Word Power taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane.
Despite the brutal trip, Sunfire Blue Chip put away the leader, but could not stall rival with the better trip. Ronny Bugatti ducked inside and outgamed "Sunfire" by a head in 1:51.4...a track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings.
Twilight Bonfire (Tim Tetrick), next-to-last early, rallied for third, with an out-every-step Lucan Hanover and Odds On Equuleus (Corey Callahan) coming away with the minor spoils. Lonewolf Currier (Brian Sears), Good Day Mate (Eric Goodell) and a tiring Word Power completed the order.
For Ronny Bugatti, an Art Major gelding trained by Allan Johnson for co-owners Eric Prevost, Bridget McNeese and Tom Haughton, he returned $14.80 (fourth choice) for his third win in 15 seasonal starts (all wins in last four starts). The exacta paid $93.50, the triple returned $652 and the superfecta paid $1,274.
"It's great to win a race like this,” Bartlett--who grabbed the drive when Miller stayed with Lucan Hanover--said. "I didn't think it would be that close coming around the last turn, but George's (Brennan) horse (Word Power) stalled and that allowed Yannick (Gingras and Sunfire Blue Chip) to gain momentum.
"He gets around this track very well and we beat a talented horse."
The $225,000 winner's share more than double "Ronny's" career earnings, which now stand at $365,058.
Charisma Hanover, the 2-5 favorite in the companion $178,684 Lady Maud for 3-year-old filly pacers, rewarded her backers with a wire-to-wire 1:52 victory. Gingras had the driving honors as the Ron Burke-trained daughter of Dragon Again crossed the wire 3 1/2 lengths in front of runner-up Certified Ideal and Jim Pantaleano, with Scandalous Hanover and David Miller third.
The win was Charisma Hanover's third straight and fourth in her last five outings, a stretch that includes a score in the $200,000 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes final at The Meadows. Overall, it was her 11th win of the year in 17 starts, bringing her career earnings to more than $515,000 for owners Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. (with files from Yonkers)
The 13-race handle was a season-high $1,061,228 the second seven-figure handle in as many nights.