By Bill Finley
Crazy Wow was coming off a win in the $500,000 Colonial at Pocono Downs, but most everyone thought the victory was a fluke. Did he win only because Hambletonian winner Pinkman chose that night to go on a break?
That’s one of those hypothetical questions for which there is no answer, but Crazy Wow made a statement last night in the elims for the Yonkers Trot. He is without a doubt a worthy foe for Pinkman or, for that matter, any other 3-year-old trotter. This time Pinkman didn’t break, and Crazy Wow beat him anyway.
With Trond Smedshammer in the bike, Buen Camino went to the front and was unchallenged through a half in a comfortable 58.2. Pinkman took a crack at him, eased into second position, but then fell back. Meanwhile, Tim Tetrick had plenty left with Crazy Wow, who scooted up the inside to win by a length.
Pinkman had an odd trip. After dropping back and appearing on his way to a sound defeat, he actually had something left and finished second. Buen Camino was third.
“This horse has been nothing but really nice for me to drive,” Tetrick said. “He likes to chase cover. He seems like a really nice horse and has done everything I’ve asked him to do. He’s a good horse and he’s versatile. He has some speed but you can do it any way you want with him.”
Not much has gone right for Pinkman since his Hambletonian win. Driver Yannick Gingras said last night that trainer Jimmy Takter is still experimenting with some equipment changes.
“We changed the bridle a little bit because he was a little too aggressive last week at Pocono,” Gingras said. “I like him better when he is aggressive but it was a little too much last week. There will definitely be some equipment changes next week. He was a little bit shaky tonight but he showed his class. At the top of the stretch he was coming back and fighting again and I’m sure he’ll be a lot better next week.”
Crazy Wow is trained by Ron Burke, who came back some 20 minutes later to win the second elim with Habitat. The son of Conway Hall has been overshadowed this year by stablemates Mission Brief and Crazy Wow but was on his game last night when winning by two lengths over Southwind Mozart.
The entire complexion of the race changed when 3-5 favorite Centurion ATM broke at the start. Driver Gingras took advantage of the situation and hustled Habitat to the front. Once he took control he was never seriously challenged.
“My horse is a nice horse,” Gingras said. “My only concern with him was getting around the first turn but once we did that he felt really good. He had plenty left. The plugs were still in and I never really asked him.”
Gingras confirmed that he’ll drive Pinkman in the Yonkers Trot final, which means Burke will need a new driver for Habitat. It’s likely that Brian Sears will get the assignment.
The 3-year-old trotting fillies took center stage after the Yonkers Trot elims as a field of eight lined up behind the gate for the $149,240 Hudson Trot. On paper, it looked like it would be a closely contested race and that’s the way it played out on the racetrack as Murders Row scored by a nose over Lady Winona.
For winning trainer Chuck Sylvester, Murderers Row has been a mixed blessing. She won a big race for him last night but is also the filly that tested positive for cobalt after a race in Pennsylvania, a situation that has put Sylvester in hot water.
That didn’t appear to be on his mind last night.
“We got a great trip last week (in the elims), came up the inside and we were hoping for the same this week,” Sylvester said. “We got a two hole trip, which was better yet. She’s been passed around a little (among several trainers) and to tell you the truth I didn’t think she was this good. They expected a lot out of this filly and she was really disappointing the first two years but this win tonight is really going to help her.”
Jason Bartlett was the winning driver.
The night’s stakes activities concluded with a one-length win by Purrfect Bags in the $116,430 Lady Maud. Still another horse based in Delaware that is making a mark on the Grand Circuit, she took them down the road with Victor Kirby doing the driving for trainer Jim King Jr. A horse that clearly likes Yonkers, her other major stakes win this year came at the Westchester County oval in the Lismore in May. She went off at 11-1 that night. Last night she was the 1-5 chalk.
“We came into the Lismore virtually an unknown, “Kirby said. “I think we made people notice us that night. Tonight, we had a little respect and a good draw and took advantage of it and she definitely responded. She is special.”