Owner Adriano Sorella paid $30,000 for the privilege of Jimmy Freight entering the 63rd Messenger Stakes. We’re surmising the other connections would glad pay at least twice that much the privilege of Jimmy Freight exiting the 63rd Messenger Stakes. That’s because Jimmy Freight (Louis-Phillipe Roy, $3.30) made Yonkers Raceway his very own veranda Saturday night, rolling in an elimination race while setting a track record in the process. The second jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown began with a pair of $40,000 eliminations, five- and six-horse fields to determine the eight finalists for next Saturday night’s (Sept. 1) half-million-dollar finale.
Jimmy Freight making his—and his driver’s—local debut, made short work of the second soiree. From post position four, he waltzed around Westchester (:27.4, :56.2, 1:23.4, 1:50.3) with the greatest of ease. That :26.4 kicker gave Jimmy Freight the track record for 3-year-old colts, a tick faster than Source of Pride (2013).
Pole-sitting Springsteen (Brian Sears) was out from third down the backside, moved to within 1-3/4 lengths in the final turn before being rebuffed. Jimmy Freight widened to 3-3/4 lengths and a place in the annals. Stay Hungry (Doug McNair) tried his luck from off-the-pace, rallying for third without ever threatening. A loosely-pocketed Winston (Corey Callahan) wound up fourth, with Decoy (Mark MacDonald) and Kwik Talkin’ (Jordan Stratton) both outrun.
For Jimmy Freight, a son of Sportswriter trained stateside by Andrew Harris, it was his eighth win in 13 seasonal starts (career earnings now over $519,000). The exacta paid $10, the triple returned $17.80 and the superfecta paid $50.50.
"He’s just perfectly suited for the half-mile track," Roy said. "I never had to pull the plugs. When we were in the third turn, he wanted to go even more."
The opening elimination for the Messenger saw polester Babes Dig Me (George Brennan, $6.30) retake from Topville Olympian (Sears), then hold both that one and a first-up JK Wildfire (Jason Bartlett) at bay (:26.3, 56.1, 1:24.3, life-best 1:52.2).
Babes Dig Me defeated JK Wildfire by a hard-fought head, with Topville Olympian beaten a neck. The battle for fourth was equally interesting, as 7-10 favorite Nutcracker Sweet (Stratton) was poor but had just enough to photo longshot Wild Bill (Ray Schnittker).
For second choice Babes Dig Me, a son of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by Brad Grant, Joe Sbrocco, Robert Leblanc & In the Gym Partners and trained by Tony Alagna, he’s now 2-for-14 this season. The exacta paid $58.50, with neither triple nor superfecta wagering offer due to the abbreviated assemblage.
"Cat Manzi, who works for Tony (Alagna) said I’d like him and he was right," Brennan said. "I learned he’s handy and he can fight one off."
The open draw is Monday afternoon, Aug. 27, for the Sept. 1 card, featuring the Messenger, $500,000 Yonkers Trot No. 64 (second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown), the $129,014 Hudson Filly Trot & $112,904 Lady Maud Pace.
Saturday night’s $44,000 Open Handicap Pace was won by favored Scott Rocks (Eric Goodell, $6.40) in 1:52.1.
As for Sears, he won twice Saturday night, bringing the milestone-in-waiting career count to 9,998. (Yonkers)