Iteration and Test Of Faith defend NYSS titles at Yonkers

Yonkers, NY – The four $200,000 New York Sire Stakes finals for sophomores on Friday night (Sept. 10) at Yonkers Raceway saw Iteration and Test Of Faith successfully defend their titles from a year ago in the filly trot and filly pace, and Sevenshadesofgrey and I’ll Drink To That defeat the favorites in the colt and gelding trot and colt and gelding pace.

Iteration was the first filly to keep control of her New York Sire Stakes crown in the filly trot. She was well-rated on the lead by driver Brian Sears through fractions of :29, :59.2, and 1:28.1, then dug in gamely in the stretch to fend off a rally by pocket-sitter Moni For Lindy (Yannick Gingras), defeating that foe by a nostril in 1:57.1. Splash Blue Chip (Ake Svanstedt) was third, and she was followed by Illuminata (Mark MacDonald) and Titans Hope (Jason Bartlett).

“The last time I was on the front with her up at Vernon, she didn’t race real well,” said Sears. “I think she was in heat during that time. She probably isn’t as sharp on the front-end, but on a half-mile track, it’s usually the best place to be.

“I would have liked to see her pull away a little more than that, but it’s been a long year. I think that just puts her over $400,000, so we have nothing to complain about.”

A daughter of Chapter Seven and this year’s Hambletonian Oaks runner-up, Iteration was the second New York Sire Stakes champion on the card for the team of Sears, trainer Marcus Melander, and owner Courant Inc., joining 2-year-old filly trot winner Joviality S. Iteration, a full sister to Trotter of the Year Gimpanzee, was bred by Order By Stable and brought $250,000 at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale. She has compiled a record of 10-5-2-0 from 20 starts, has now earned $744,492, and paid $5.40 to win as the 8-5 second choice. The exacta paid $15.40 and the trifecta kicked back $39.40.

Test Of Faith became a two-time NY Sire Stakes champion in the Cameo Hill Farm filly pace at Yonkers Saturday night. Georgia Panagi Photo.

Test Of Faith (David Miller) then became a two-time sire stakes champion in the Cameo Hill Farm filly pace. She moved out of the pocket going to the :27.1 opening quarter and took the top spot away from Summer Rae (Bartlett) passing that station. Test Of Faith kept the tempo pretty high from there, hitting the half in :56 and three-quarters in 1:24.

It seemed like Test Of Faith was on her way to a very easy win after she opened up a gap on Summer Rae going to three-quarters, but Test Of Faith didn’t get around the last turn the best, which allowed Summer Rae to close the gap and then take a shot to the outside. Test Of Faith put the hammer back down in the lane, though, and widened to win by 5-1/4 lengths in 1:52.3. Summer Rae was second and Delightful Z Tam (Pat Lachance) got up for third. Tava (Matt Kakaley) checked in fourth and Heart Of Mine (Scott Zeron) finished fifth.

An Art Major filly bred by Fred Hertrich, Test Of Faith is trained by Brett Pelling for owners Mel Segal, Kentuckiana Racing Stable, and Eddie Gran. A $92,000 acquisition at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale, she has 16 wins and two seconds from 18 lifetime tries, and she has now pocketed $914,050. She returned $2.40 to win as the 1-5 favorite and was atop a $23.60 exacta and a $60 trifecta.

The complexion of the colt and gelding trot, sponsored by Crawford Farms, changed before the start when morning line favorite and track record holder Ahundreddollarbill was scratched sick.

“He wasn’t comfortable after warming up and acted like he tied up,” tweeted Ahundreddollarbill’s trainer Tony Alagna. “We wanted his health and the betting public to be protected.”

With Ahundreddollarbill out of the picture, Dewey Arnold (Bartlett) was sent off as the choice, and he would post panels of :28.2, :58, and 1:26.3. Entering the last turn, Gingras moved to the outside from fourth with 44-1 shot Sevenshadesofgrey, and he would pick up cover on the bend from pocket-sitter Ambassador Hanover (Svanstedt). Dewey Arnold dug in through the stretch and tried to hold on, but Sevenshadesofgrey had the momentum on the outside and got up for the surprise win by three-quarters of a length in 1:56.2. Dewey Arnold had to settle for second, and there was a dead-heat for third between Balenciaga (Tim Tetrick) and Dee’s Red Delicous (Matt Kakaley). Ambassador Hanover faded to fifth.

“I was hoping for a check, but the horse raced really good. I was kind of happy for the slow fractions. I figured it took the back-field out of the race. I wasn’t thinking about winning the race. I was hoping to be third or fourth, maybe, at that point,” Gingras said. “When we headed up the backstretch I had good trot, and it looked like the horses in front of me, they were chasing already. I had a handful of trot, so I pulled him, and I got lucky Ake pulled. I got second-over around the turn, and even before the top of the stretch, I really thought he was going to win.

“I love it. I started here at Yonkers when I first came, so it’s always nice to be back. Usually sire stakes finals are always on Saturdays in New York, so I haven’t been able to come for years. When I saw this year that it was on a Friday, when the stakes schedule came out, I told a couple of my clients that I’d be able to follow it a little bit as long as it was possible. It worked out good that we had a decent night.”

Ron Burke trains Sevenshadesofgrey, a Chapter Seven colt bred by Concord Stud Farm, for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC., J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, Larry Karr, and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. A $100,000 buy at the 2019 Standardbred Horse Sale, he now has two career triumphs from 26 appearances, and he has now banked $207,649. He paid $90.50 to win, and the exacta kicked back $246. The trifecta with Dee’s Red Delicous in the third spot was worth $666 and the trifecta that included Balenciaga returned $590.

Completing the sire stakes finals were the colt and gelding pacers, sponsored by Blue Chip Farms, and I’ll Drink To That gave David Miller his second victory, winning in 1:51.3 to tie the stakes record. After pole-sitter Southwind Petyr (Dexter Dunn) and post three starter Stop Staring (Mark MacDonald) made early breaks on each side of him, I’ll Drink To That elected to dash to the top, and he would carve out stations of :27.1., :56.2, and 1:23.3. Town Gossip (Joe Bongiorno) tried to chase down I’ll Drink To That from the pocket, but he couldn’t get there, as I’ll Drink To That held sway to tally by two lengths. Town Gossip, King James Express (Bartlett), Southwind Petyr, and Mullinax (Gingras) were the remainder of the top five finishers.

“He was very good. My plans changed right when the gate folded there. I was thinking I was probably going to get away third, but when the two horses broke on either side of me, I went ahead and tried to put him on the front,” Miller remarked. “If Joe would have kept going, I probably would have turned him loose. Then I got reasonable fractions, and he was pretty strong.

“He’s a very game horse, and I like the horse. He felt strong up the backstretch and around the last turn. I was hoping he would hang on.”

I’ll Drink To That is an American Ideal colt bred by Winbak Farm, and he is trained by Chris Ryder for owners Craig Henderson, Lawrence Minowitz, Robert Mondillo, and Oompa’s Farm Inc. A $75,000 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale graduate, he made his sixth appearance in the winner’s circle, and he has now stashed away $329,489. He returned $8.40 to win as a 3-1 shot and keyed a $22.20 exacta and a $139 trifecta.

When racing resumes on Monday night (Sept. 13) with a 12-race program at Yonkers, there will be a $7,549.19 carryover and a $20,000 guaranteed pool in the Pick-5 sequence.

The guarantee in the Pick-5 is being offered as part of the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program. Free past performances for the Pick-5, courtesy of TrackMaster, will be available here. The Pick-5, which begins in race five, has a takeout rate of 20 percent.

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