by John Furgele (The Best 228)
Yonkers Raceway did it right. On Saturday, October 15, the International Trot was contested along with the Yonkers Invitational Trot and Yonkers Invitational Pace. And, kudos are in order for the raceway to start the festivities at 1:10 pm so those in Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland could see the action live.
Harness racing continues to get better and better with showcase races and Saturday’s card at Yonkers Raceway was no exception. Along with the $1 million trot and the two $250,000 invitationals, the card featured a $45,000 race and no race had a purse of less than $21,600. That’s the way to do it if you want to get fans out to the track. Simulcasting will always be there, but the best way to attract fans to your venue is to give them something to get excited about and that comes in the way of high stakes races with good purses.
The International Trot did not disappoint. Resolve was one of three U.S.entrants, and the 6-year did the job in spectacular fashion. Leading the entire way, he set a world record for 1 ¼ miles on a half-mile track in 2:23.4. The field behind him was solid, but simply put, nobody could catch Resolve. He cut fractions of 28.1, 57.1, 1:26 before hitting the mile in 1:54.4. His driver and trainer, Ake Svanstedt said the colt did it all by himself and could have gone faster.
In the $250,000 Yonkers Invitational Pace, Wiggle It Jiggleit won and won easily. Usually a horse that comes from behind, WIJI went to the front and was never headed, winning in 1:50.2. Some thought that Yonkers might see its first sub 1:50 mile, but with no pressure, WIJI cruised home to win for the 15th time in 23 starts this year. For his career, he has 38 wins in 50 starts. The gelding is owned by George Teague, driven by his son, Montrell and trained by Clyde Francis. The sport would love to see WIJI in the Breeders Crown on October 28 at The Meadowlands, but the connections would have to supplement his entry. When asked about the Breeders Crown, driver Teague said that he doesn’t want to tip his hat. As we know, Marion Marauder had to be supplemented into last week’s Kentucky Futurity and all he did was win the race—and the trotting Triple Crown—in the process. I hope and expect to see WIJI at the Big M in a couple weeks.
The Yonkers Invitational Trot saw Bee a Magician come back from a five month layoff to win impressively in 2:25.1 for 1 ¼ miles. The 6-year old filly is four-for- four this season and for her career is 45 for 69 with earnings just shy of $4 million. Known for being ornery, the filly handled the track—and the distance—easily for driver Brian Sears. In harness racing, the winner gets 50 percent of the purse, so both Bee a Magician pocketed $125,000 each with Resolve adding $500,000 to his career earnings.
In the $45,000 Open Handicap Trot Svanstedt steered Bourbon Bay to victory in 1:54.1 returning $11.00. The $35,000 Open Handicap Pace saw Rock N’ Roll World take the lead at the half mile to win in 1:51.3 for driver George Brennan. He returned $6.20.
Yonkers Raceway will be dark on Sunday but will be back at it Monday with a 12-race card beginning at 7:10 pm.