Stay Hungry, Six Pack take Yonkers crown races
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Stay Hungry moved one step nearer the pacing Triple Crown with a win in Saturday’s Messenger Stakes at Yonkers Raceway while trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt enjoyed a record-setting night in trotting stakes action for 3-year-olds by capturing the Yonkers Trot with Six Pack and Hudson Filly Trot with Plunge Blue Chip.
Plunge Blue Chip won the $129,014 Hudson in 1:53.1, the fastest trotting mile in Yonkers history and equaling Frau Blucher’s world record for a 3-year-old female trotter on a half-mile track, set in 2013 at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio. Six Pack won the $500,000 Yonkers Trot in 1:54, the fastest Yonkers Trot ever at Yonkers.
Stay Hungry won the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers by a neck over favorite Jimmy Freight in 1:52.1. Topville Olympian was third.
The Messenger Stakes is the second jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Stay Hungry won the first, the Cane Pace, on Aug. 4 at the Meadowlands and can complete the sweep of the Crown races with a win in the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 20 at the Delaware County Fair.
Stay Hungry, driven by Doug McNair for trainer Tony Alagna, was among four horses racing for the early lead in the Messenger, with Winston, Babes Dig Me, and Jimmy Freight. Stay Hungry, who started from post six, got to the front as the field reached the opening quarter-mile in :27.1 and remained in front from there, but not without a fight.
Jimmy Freight, who started from post eight, came after Stay Hungry as the horses made their way around the second turn and headed to the half-mile point. The two raced together to the half in :55.3 and three-quarters in 1:23 and continued to battle down the stretch.
"I actually had my horse too much up on his toes," McNair said. "I could have taken my time a little bit more (going for the lead), I just thought Jimmy would get over there a little quicker than he did, but it all worked out.
"They both got pretty tired there the last sixteenth (of a mile). We got lucky to hold on.
"Tony does a great job with (Stay Hungry). He’s just a pleasure to drive. Every week he gives you a hundred percent. The front end usually isn’t his forte, but he showed tonight that he could do it."
Alagna has won the Messenger three times in four years.
"When we’re doing the staking, I have in mind horses that I think will suit the racetrack, suit this style of racing," Alagna said. "This horse has always been very good in the turns, even though maybe it’s not his forte to do the run-and-gun, but I thought he was a horse that could get around here. After the horse won the Cane, it was a no-brainer; we had to go for the Triple Crown, so that’s why we brought him here tonight.
"We’ve been very blessed in this race. It’s a great race for us."
Stay Hungry has won four of 10 races this year and 10 of 19 in his career, good for $1.15 million in purses. The colt, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of My Little Dragon, is owned by Brad Grant and the Irwin Samelman Estate.
Sent off as the 5-2 second choice behind 3-5 Jimmy Freight, Stay Hungry paid $7.60 to win.
In the Yonkers Trot, Six Pack took the lead from Lindsey’s Pride prior to the quarter-mile point and was never threatened the rest of the way. He won by 7-3/4 lengths over Helpisontheway, with Lindsey’s Pride finishing third.
The Yonkers Trot is the second jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. Atlanta won the first, the Hambletonian, but was not eligible to the Yonkers Trot. The third jewel is the Kentucky Futurity, Oct. 7 at Lexington’s Red Mile.
"The horse to beat was (Helpisontheway) and he didn’t go to the lead today, so I didn’t need to stress my horse," Svanstedt said about his methodical drive to the front in the race’s early stages. "It was (Helpisontheway) that I was afraid of."
A son of Muscle Mass out of Pleasing Lady, Six Pack has won six of nine races this year and 10 of 17 lifetime. He has earned $849,840 for owners Svanstedt, Little E LLC, Stall Kalmar FF, and Lars Berg.
Six Pack, the 1-5 favorite, paid $2.50 to win.
In the Hudson, Plunge Blue Chip led from start to finish, but had to hold off Supergirl Riley by a nose at the wire. Lucky Ava finished third.
A daughter of Muscle Mass out of Dunk The Donato, Plunge Blue Chip has won four of nine races this year and 13 of 19 in her career. She has earned $732,316.
Svanstedt, Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Tomas Andersson, and Rick Zeron Stables own the filly.
"The horses need to be sound and must be good gaited to handle a (half-mile) track," Svanstedt said. "Plunge and Six Pack are good horses."
Sent off as the 1-5 favorite, Plunge Blue Chip paid $2.50 to win.
Another 1-5 favorite, Alexis Faith, won the $112,904 Lady Maud for 3-year-old female pacers by a half-length over Solitary in 1:53.4. Jewels Forreal finished third.
Alexis Faith is a daughter of American Ideal out of Cannae Cammie. She has won four of 11 races this season and 10 of 20 in her career, with purses totaling $455,198.
Driven by Jim Morrill Jr. for trainer Casie Coleman, Alexis Faith paid $2.60 to win.--By Ken Weingartner/USTA