Yonkers, NY – New York Night of Champions on Friday (Sept. 10) at Yonkers Raceway began with four $200,000 New York Sire Stakes finals for the 2-year-olds of both sexes and gaits.
In the Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund filly trot, Joviality S (Brian Sears) left quickly from post eight and was able to work her way by Little Pink Lies (Ake Svanstedt) after a :27.3 opening quarter.
Joviality S was able to maintain command through middle-half panels of :56.4 and 1:26.2 and turned away a first-over try by Valentina Blu (Andrew McCarthy) past three-quarters and on the last turn. Through the stretch, Joviality S dug in when called on by Sears and she held off a re-rallying Valentina Blu to win by a diminishing three-quarters of a length in a stakes record 1:55.4. Little Pink Lies, Cash Infusion (Mark MacDonald), and Seven On The Rocks (John Stark Jr.) completed the top five finishers.
“She’s a very talented filly, and I thought she might be able to overcome the tough spot with her gate speed,” said Sears. “I haven’t really left with her much this year, but she’s got really good manners and gets around the turns great. I felt pretty good about it.
“Andy’s filly was struggling in the turns a little bit, so I was just trying to get away from her as much as I could around the last turn. His filly raced really good, but mine held on.”
A Chapter Seven filly, Joviality S is trained by Marcus Melander for owner Courant Inc. Bred by Courant’s breeding operation, AM Bloodstock Inc., Joviality S is the first foal out of the Muscle Hill mare Pasithea Face S ($579,565, 1:50.4). Joviality S has a record of 5-1-0 from seven starts and pushed her earnings to $224,623. She paid $3.50 to win and led a $7.70 exacta and a $36.60 trifecta.
Molotov Cocktail, driven by Scott Zeron, led all the way in taking the Winbak Farm 2-year-old colt and gelding trot. Starting from post two, Molotov Cocktail made his way to the lead before the :28.3 opening quarter, with Quincy Market (Corey Callahan), Justice (Svanstedt), and Cool Papa Bell (Jason Bartlett) following him. Molotov Cocktail would go on to click off a half of :58.2, and it was at that point that Svanstedt went first-over with Justice, and Cool Papa Bell latched on to the cover.
Quincy Market began to back-pedal before the 1:27.1 three-quarters, which allowed Justice to drop into the pocket, but he was also empty, leaving Cool Papa Bell to take up the chase against Molotov Cocktail. Cool Papa Bell’s bid was futile, though, as Molotov Cocktail went on to win by a length and three-quarters in a stakes record 1:56.2. Cool Papa Bell, Secret Rule (Joe Bongiorno), Grand Spa (Sears), and Justice followed him under the wire.
“When I have a horse like him, I just kind of want to position up close. For me, it was always going to be the first two steps he took out of the gate, so I had him timed into it pretty well,” stated Zeron. “Once I out-footed Quincy Market right there, I had my eye on where Ake was going to be. Once I hit the turn, I took advantage of it and pushed forward.
“Honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever seen the bottom of him this year, so I was pretty comfortable knowing that he’s going to finish strong, as long as I keep him going a good tempo and nobody could surprise me by having me out-footed. I kept the pace up front good. It was actually good for my horse to hear a few footsteps coming behind him. Obviously, when he got right up close to my helmet, you always have to worry, but once we straightened up in the lane, I was pretty comfortable where I was.”
Linda Toscano trains Molotov Cocktail, a Chapter Seven colt. Richard Gutnick and Tom Pontone bred him and now share ownership of him with partner Gary Cocco. He’s the first foal out of the Kadabra mare Moonlight Cocktail ($137,233, 1:53.2) and is now a four-time winner from six trips behind the gate. He has pocketed $174,168 and returned $10.20 to win after being sent off at 4-1. The exacta kicked back $38.60 and the trifecta went for $611.00.
“He was a remarkable racehorse, and he’s a remarkable sire,” said Toscano, who also trained Chapter Seven during his career. “He’s a game-changer for the business, and I’m so proud of him. (Molotov Cocktail‘s) mom was a cool horse, also. I trained his mother also, and I was looking forward to training this colt. He’s everything I hoped he would be.
“He’s eligible to everything in Lexington, and he’s also eligible to the Kindergarten Series. I think the owners and I will have a pow-wow, we’ll see how the colt comes out of it, and we’ll decide what’s best for him.”
Forrest Blu (Tyler Buter) was the pace-setter in the Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund colt and gelding pace, showing the way through stations of :27.4, :57.2, and 1:25.2.
After a first-over Pleaseletmeknow (Matt Kakaley) couldn’t put any pressure on Forrest Blu and he turned for home on a clear lead, it looked like it might be over, but JD (MacDonald) angled out after sitting in the pocket and was able to get up late to win by a neck in 1:55.1. Forrest Blu had to settle for second, and Pickup Man Hanover (Billy Dobson), who wound up third-over and then was forced wide on the last turn by a breaking Stretch The Line (Jordan Stratton) closed well for third. Hurrikane Chuck (Dan Dube) and Pleaseletmeknow were fourth and fifth, respectively.
“We were going really hot into the first turn. I just wanted to position him forwardly there, and I was happy I could loop the inside ones,” MacDonald said. “Last time, that Forrest Blu followed me, and he beat me late. I was real happy to get that trip.
“I just wanted to stay on the rail until I came out of the last turn – make sure he didn’t hit a knee or anything. He seemed to be traveling good, and he dug in late and won. He’s a really nice colt. I think that last race (a third in the sire stakes at Yonkers on Aug. 24) helped him kind of break him loose a little bit.
Trainer Ray Schnittker also co-owns the winning So Surreal colt with JD’s breeder, George Zitone, and Melissa Beckwith. JD, who is the second foal out of the Art Major mare Park N Orchard ($202,261. 1:51), made his third appearance in the winner’s circle from seven tries and has now banked $137,729. He paid $32.40 after being sent off at 15-1 and was atop a $166.50 exacta and a $452.50 trifecta.
Rounding out the 2-year-old finals was the Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund filly pace. Gotthegreenlight (Dexter Dunn) rocketed to the front from post three, but she would yield to Just Divine (Yannick Gingras) after a :27.2 opening quarter. Dunn then looked like he might try and re-move to the top on the second turn, but Gingras picked up the tempo some and put him back in the pocket.
Joyride Hanover (Tim Tetrick) took up the chase first-over before the :57.3 half, giving cover to A Girl That Twirls (Dube), and Joyride Hanover came with a determined bid that got her on even terms with Just Divine at the 1:26 three-quarters. On the far turn, Just Divine accelerated and Joyride Hanover began to drop back, giving Gotthegreenlight and Dunn the path they needed to the outside. Once she had clear sailing, Gotthegreenlight surged by Just Divine and went on to win by a length in a stakes record 1:54.1. Just Divine was next, followed by Hamptons Babe (Bartlett), A Girl That Twirls, and Joyride Hanover.
“I thought there would have probably been a little bit more speed early. We got out of the gate pretty good, and got a two-hole after that. Pretty lucky to get out there,” relayed Dunn. “I had a crack (at taking the lead), but Yannick went on again, so we got back in there and needed luck after that. If she didn’t get out, it would have been a bit of a tragedy for the connections because she couldn’t have probably done it any easier.
“She was plugs in at the finish. She’s a lovely filly. She really eats up the track, she wants to win, and she’s a great competitor.”
Bred by Dr. Stephen Dey and acquired for $40,000 at last year’s Standardbred Horse Sale, Gotthegreenlight is a daughter of American Ideal trained by Richard “Nifty” Norman for owners Patricia Stable and Kovach Stables LLC. Gotthegreenlight, who is the fifth foal out of the Bettor’s Delight mare Bet On Luck (1:52.3, $531,617), has six victories and a second from seven efforts, and she has now stashed away $208,433. She was the even-money second choice and paid $4.10 to win. The exacta was good for $8.60 and the trifecta returned $28.60.