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NYSS winners aim for Hambo

July 13, 2006

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Tom McTygue, the Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Public Works, and trainer John Stark Jr had one very special guest in the winner’s circle-- New York State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno--when their Hambletonian-bound Algiers Hall won his New York Sire Stakes division at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway on Wednesday. Sen. Bruno joined McTygue and his family and friends in the clubhouse for dinner, then officially presented the trophy blanket following the 3-year-old trotting colt’s 1:58.2 victory.

The win was the Conway Hall colt’s fourth in seven starts this year and was an important one following several unfortunate breaks in stakes events. Despite the sloppy track due to heavy rain, Algiers Hall’s ability to trot cleanly and win by 12 lengths gave his connections enough confidence to say they plan to send him to the Hambletonian, the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown. The eliminations will be held at the Meadowlands on July 29 and the $1.5 million final will be contested August 5.

“Doesn’t everyone hope and wish and dream for one like this?” asked McTygue, a 35-year veteran horse owner, following the race. This will be the first horse he has ever sent to the Hambletonian.

McTygue explained that trainer and co-owner Stark warmed up Algiers Hall, who tends to be anxious, on the training track on Saratoga’s backstretch before taking him to the main track in an effort to keep the colt calm. The strategy worked and he made it through the first turn without breaking, which has plagued him recently.

“We were all nervous going into the race,” explained McTygue, “because he gets a little excited. Once he got around the first turn, I knew he was good, then when I saw John (Stark) inching out (going to the half) I knew he had him in a good spot.”

Stark expects to start Algiers Hall in a qualifier or overnight at the Meadowlands before the eliminations so the horse can gain experience on that mile track.

Carlyle and David Smith also share ownership in Algiers Hall.

In a later Sire Stakes division, last year’s champion RC Royalty broke the track record in 1:56.3, an impressive time over a sloppy track. This eclipsed the previous time of 1:58 held jointly by Incredible Nevele and Armbro Trick by more than a second.

Bet down to 1-9 odds, RC Royalty and trainer-driver Dan Daley cut the mile and continued to draw off by increasing lengths throughout the mile on their way to a crushing 27-length victory. They were joined in the winner’s circle by owner Raymond “Chip” Campbell Jr. and his family.

Daley revealed that the colt would be heading to the Hambletonian eliminations also, but may make a stop at Monticello Raceway for another New York Sire Stakes leg on July 24.

“It will be five days out and he should be speed tight by then,” said Daley in the winner’s circle.

“It’s probably about 50-50 that he’ll go to Monticello,” added Campbell of the Credit Winner colt. “As much as you try to plan these things out and make a schedule, you always have to see how the horse comes out of his races and how he’s feeling.”

Stark also scored with the Credit Winner gelding Cold Winner in 1:59.2. Owned by W Springtime Racing Stable (Skip and Wendy Spring) and Stark, the gelding won for the third time in as many starts and became the only horse to compete in and win three straight New York Sire Stakes events, which includes the State Fair at Goshen.

Also posting wins were Ray Schnittker’s Matchstick Man in 2:00.1; driver Chuck Connor Jr. and Kid Conway in 2:02; and North Conway for trainer-driver Brian Cross in 2:01.2. All three are sons of sire Conway Hall.

A total of $235,810 in purses was distributed during the six New York Sire Stakes events on the card.

Sire Stakes action continues at Saratoga on Saturday when 3-year-old pacing colts will compete. The first 2,500 racing fans on Saturday will receive a complimentary T-shirt, courtesy of the New York Sire Stakes, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway and the Saratoga Harness Horseperson’s Association.

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