From the eight hole like a Missle

Missle J posted his fifth straight win by winning the $300,000 Art Rooney final Saturday at Yonkers from the far outside post.

by Dave Briggs and Tom Pedulla

Missle J blasted out of the eight hole, sat third in the early going and then powered past entrymate Artmagic in the stretch to win the $300,000 Art Rooney final in 1:53 on Saturday (May 28) at Yonkers.

“I knew he’d go a good race, but you never know from the eight hole. The eight hole is a tough spot,” said Missle J’s trainer Linda Toscano.

Unraced at two, Missle J is starting to make up for it. It was the fifth straight win for the gelded son of American Ideal out of Cantor’s Daughter. Missle J now sports a record of 5-1-1 in eight starts this year and earnings of $188,700 for Ken Jacobs’ KJ Stables LLC of Baldwinsville, NY and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables LLC of Fairport, NY.

“He’s honest and he’s still learning. He’s a little too grabby at times, but he’s figuring it out start by start,” Toscano said. “He’s got a full stakes season ahead of him and he’s lightly raced, so we hope he will continue to improve.”

Missle J was a $100,000 yearling purchase from the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sales Company sale in Harrisburg, PA. Jacobs said he had Missle J nominated to the Meadowlands Pace at two, but decided not to keep the pacer eligible after Missle J became sore at two and failed to make a pari-mutuel start.

“I didn’t know how good he was going to come back,” Jacobs said. “I thought he was going to be good, but you just don’t know until you put a race like this together.”

Missle J won the lone $40,000 Art Rooney elimination a week ago, but then drew the dreaded eight hole for the final.

But driver Brian Sears made it look easy when he blasted into third spot off the gate.

“I raced him last week and he was a little aggressive early, so I opted to stay in the three hole,” said Sears, who won the Rooney for the fourth time to match John Campbell’s record for Rooney victories. “He was pretty strong and when they are moving along like they were, I was pretty confident.”

Artmagic did the work up front for owner Polisseni, trainer Trond Smedshammer and driver George Brennan, but faded to fourth. Tailgunner Hanover finished second, two-and-a-quarter lengths back, followed by Yankee Artillery.

Though Missle J was not kept eligible to the Meadowlands Pace, Toscano said the pacer has “a full stakes season ahead of him and he’s lightly raced, so we hope he will continue to improve… He’s got the speed, he’s got the desire. Now, he’s just got to learn to be versatile, basically what he did today. Get himself into position and finish.”

Two races earlier on the card, Kryptos won the $100,000 Lismore final for three-year-old filly pacers. Jordan Stratton drove the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere—Summer Mystery to victory for trainer/part-owner Nikolas Drennan and his partners Joseph Davino of New Jersey and Brad Shackman of Alberta.

Kryptos out-dueled Apple Bottom Jeans by a neck in 1:53.3.

“It was a pretty even field. I was hoping somebody from the outside would go just to mix it up a bit and they did. My filly showed up in the stretch,” Stratton said.

It was the eighth win in nine starts for Kryptos.

“She showed a bunch of wins on the program. She’s going to turn out to be a nice filly,” Stratton said.

Kryptos, a $24,000 yearling purchase at the 2014 Harrisburg yearling sale, did not make a pari-mutuel start at two, but now sports earnings just shy of $100,000.