Sir Pinocchio wires field in MGM Yonkers Trot final

Yonkers, NY — Sir Pinocchio became a two-time winner on harness racing’s Grand Circuit this year, as the Dexter Cup champion was a front-stepping 1:54.4 winner in Friday night’s (June 28) $300,000 MGM Yonkers Trot at MGM Yonkers Raceway, giving him the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown.

Driver Jason Bartlett fired Sir Pinocchio out from post two and battled for early command with pole sitter and favorite Security Protected (Tim Tetrick), but that horse made a break on the opening turn, leaving Sir Pinocchio in front well before the quarter, which went on the board in just :29. Facing no outside pressure in the second quarter, Bartlett kept the tempo easy, getting to the half in just :58.2.

Sir Pinocchio was a front-stepping 1:54.4 winner in Friday night’s $300,000 MGM Yonkers Trot. Mike Lizzi photo.

Passing the half-mile marker, trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt swung Situationship, who had made a break before the start but reset and sat fifth, to the outside first-over, and he came with a strong bid that carried him to within three-quarters of a length of Sir Pinocchio at the 1:26.3 three-quarters.

Sir Pinocchio was game, though, keeping Situationship at bay on the rim and going on to the win by a half-length in 1:54.4. Situationship was second from elimination winner Bargain (Yannick Gingras). Fly By (Scott Zeron) also recovered from an early miscue to collect fourth and I’m Out (Marcus Miller), who also went off-stride from fourth before three-quarters, was fifth.

This completed a day to remember for Bartlett as he was able to get to MGM Yonkers Raceway before the MGM Grand Messenger Stakes after watching his son Kobe graduate from high school.

“I got to see him walk across the podium and receive his diploma. I made record time down here to get here just so I wouldn’t miss it,” Bartlett said. “It was a big day for me.”

While others were unable to keep trotting in both the Dexter Cup and tonight’s MGM Yonkers Trot, Sir Pinocchio has kept his cool both times.

“Tonight, we had (Security Protected) beat out of there. Eddie (trainer Ed Hart) told me that he watched him warm up and he looked a little weird in the turns, so we went out of there with him in the turn, and he blew up,” remarked Bartlett. “You can’t really go into these races with any sort of plan or anything. They all sort of go out the window in the first eighth.”

Hart trains Sir Pinocchio, a gelding by Met’s Hall, for owner/breeder Carolyn Atherton. Sir Pinocchio has six wins, four seconds and two thirds from 14 appearances, has pocketed $341,853 and paid $10.80 to win as the 4-1 third choice. He was atop a $33.40 exacta and a $162.50 trifecta.

“It was a tough field. We had a good post and I was hopeful. We got a little lucky for sure,” Hart stated. “He’s the real deal. He’s a nice horse, and he’s getting better, too. He’s a little better on a big track, I think.

“He has the Canadian Trotting Classic in September and a few other races. He’s staked up a little bit, but no Hambletonian.”

Irv Atherton represented wife Carolyn in the winner’s circle ceremonies. The Athertons are from nearby Scarsdale, N.Y., and have enjoyed success in the sport before, but perhaps not at this level.

“He’s up at Vernon next week for the Zweig. We’ll go from there,” Irv Atherton remarked. “We’ve had some really good ones, but this is a long time coming. The little guy gets to the winner’s circle.”

The filly companion event to the MGM Yonkers Trot is the New York New York Mile, and it was raced in a pair of $55,000 divisions.

In the first one of those, Eloise (Corey Callahan) worked out a second-over trip and forged her way by first-over Tactical Lori (Tyler Buter) late in the mile to win by a neck in 1:57. Kinesiology (George Brennan) was the third-place finisher.

Eloise, bred by Crawford Farms Racing, is trained by Ron Coyne Jr. for owners Ron Coyne Stables Inc., Blair Corbeil, Richard Carney and Farrell Carney. A daughter of Tactical Landing, Eloise has six wins from 16 career starts, has earned $114,061 and returned $7.10 to win as the 5-2 second choice. She led an exacta of $16.20 and a trifecta of $66.50.

Miss I La (Joe Bongiorno) led throughout in the second split and won in 1:57.2 as favorites R Melina (Buter) and Date Night Hanover (Dexter Dunn) both made breaks before the half. Draw The Line (Gingras) was game after a first-over trip and held off a closing Cocktailwithakick (Svanstedt) for the second spot.

“Once I saw (R Melina break), it kind of put the race in my hands to decide if I wanted to cut it or be in the two-hole behind Date Night Hanover, but I didn’t love the way Date Night Hanover looked scoring down. I thought she looked a little off in her gait, so I took the shot of being on the front,” said Bongiorno. “I know this one is probably better with a target, but in this field on a half-mile track, I thought I’d take my chances and see if I could hold them off.”

A filly by Walner, Miss I La is trained by Noel Daley for owner Ken Jacobs. Miss I La is now a four-time victor from 15 trips behind the gate, sent her bankroll to $211,588 and paid $14.60 to win as a 6-1 shot. The exacta was $110.50 and the trifecta kicked back $607.00.

MGM Yonkers Raceway is currently operating on a Monday/Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday live racing schedule with post time each night at 7 p.m. (EDT).

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