Habitat captures Yonkers Trot

by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

Yonkers, NY — “Habitat has fled the scene,” said Yonkers Raceway announcer John Hernan, by way of introducing the 61st winner of the Yonkers Trot for 3-year-old colts and geldings, conducted on Saturday evening (Sept. 5) at Yonkers Raceway. The race is the second leg in the Trotting Triple Crown.

Mike Lizzi photo

Habitat (Brian Sears) was a 1:54.4 winner in the Yonkers Trot.

The win came in 1:54.4 by 3-1/2 lengths with Brian Sears, who was also named on French Laundry but chose Habitat. The winner is trained by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi.

Sears has now won both of the first two legs of the Trotting Triple Crown, the Hambletonian with Pinkman and now the Yonkers Trot with Habitat.

As the eight horse field left the gate, Crazy Wow, part of the 3-5 Burke entry with the winner, made a break and never caught the field. Sears put Habitat on a path for the lead and made it by the :27.4 first quarter with Buen Camino (Trond Smedshammer) behind him and French Laundry (Corey Callahan) in third.

That trio marched on to the :57 half, this time with Pinkman (Yannick Gingras) and French Laundry switching spots in third and fourth position. By the 1:26 three-quarters, Pinkman was off the rail and challenging for the lead, getting past Buen Camino briefly, but not able to pose a serious threat to Habitat.

Sears had his hands in his lap for the final unchallenged eighth of a mile. It was the seventh win in 14 starts this year for the son of Conway Hall-Habit’s Best. His $250,000 share of the purse pushed him to $570,434 in 2015 winnings and $1,104,841 in career earnings.

After the race, Trond Smedshammer, driver/trainer of Buen Camino, who crossed the wire fifth, filed an objection against Yannick Gingras, driving Pinkman, for causing interference at the head of the stretch.

The objection was sustained, and while the winner, Habitat, was unaffected, the official second place finisher became Southwind Mozart (Daniel Dube), moved up from third and the official third place finisher became Buen Camino (Smedshammer) moved up from fifth. Pinkman was disqualified from second to fifth, as was his stablemate French Laundry, who crossed the wire fourth, but was set back to sixth.

“I was able to get Pinkman behind me. I knew he struggled a bit last week,” Sears said. “My horse is a handy horse. I had driven four of the eight horses in the race, so I knew the competition very well, which always helps.”

Sears won his second Yonkers Trot, but his first here (Strong Yankee, 2005, Freehold).

As for the chances of completing a Sears-driven Triple Crown in the Oct. 10 Kentucky Futurity, he said, “Nope. I plan to be here with Bee A Magician in the International Trot.”

— Frank Drucker also contributed to this story

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