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Strong Yankee wins Yonkers Trot
Saturday, August 20, 2005 - by Don Bielak, publicity director, Freehold Raceway

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FREEHOLD, NJ - - Strong Yankee took advantage of a couple of breaks, literally, and went on to win the $279,816 Yonkers Trot final - the second jewel of the Trotting Triple Crown - at Freehold Raceway on Saturday.

The complexion of the race changed dramatically when last week's elimination winners, Ken Warkentin and Worship, made breaks before the first eighth of a mile. With his two main competitors out of contention, driver Brian Sears saw a chance to get the lead and moved Strong Yankee to the top leaving the first turn.

USTA Photo 

Strong Yankee's caretaker, Emelia Svensson, receives a congratulatory phone call after the Trond Smedshammer-trainee won the Yonkers Trot at Freehold on Saturday.
Once in front, the son of Muscles Yankee made every pole a winning one, cutting fractions of 28.4, 58, 1:27.2 on his way to a five length triumph in 1:56.1, which equaled the track record co-owned by Giant Keeper (1998) and SJ's Caviar (2001). Maximum Return (Cat Manzi) got a rail trip and rallied on the passing lane to finish second. It was another two lengths back to a late-arriving Med Vac (Dan Dube) who salvaged the show spot.

Ken Warkentin finished 10 and one-half lengths behind the winner in sixth and Worship finished eighth, beaten 24 and one-half lengths.

Sears offered his thoughts on Strong Yankee's victory. "We got an easier trip than expected," Sears said. "We had a longshot on our back, so there was no real pressure. He was very good today, the best he's been all year," Sears added.

David Miller, who drove Ken Warkentin, had an inkling of what might be in store for him in the race. "When we scored down, he got bully, which is not like him at all," Miller said. "When we moved up behind the gate, he just went to running."

Worship's driver, Stephane Bouchard, was more perplexed. "We had the rail, so I didn't have to leave too strong," said Bouchard. "He was cruising along and just made a break for no real reason."

The Yonkers Trot was the first win of the year in eight starts for Strong Yankee. The trainee of Trond Smedshammer, who races under the banner of Strong Yankee Stable, was coupled in the wagering with Worship and returned $4.00 as the slight favorite.

Several other rich and prestigious stakes were also contested on the Freehold undercard.

A pair of $57,793 divisions of the Hudson Filly Trot for three-year-old fillies were decided on Saturday.

USTA Photo 

The connections of Strong Yankee celebrate with the Yonkers Trot trophy. 
The first division went to Glenn Wenzel and Daniel Mock's Cr Southern Peach. The Cr Commando filly, who is conditioned by Gary Price, trotted the mile in 1:58.2 with Cat Manzi in the sulky and returned $13.60 to win. Twin B Senorita (Ray Schnittker) finished one-half length back in second and Tana Star (Kyle DiBenedetto) outfinished tired horses to take the show spot, eight and one-half lengths behind the winner.

Division two saw Scharf, Keller, Keller and Bittle's Dodger Blues record an electrifying, twenty one length tally in 1:56.3 behind the handling of George Brennan. The Brett Bittle trainee, a daughter of Muscles Yankee, paid $6.40 as the second choice in the wagering. Slice Of Heaven (Stephen Smith) finished a distant second, a head in front of Creditability (Ray Schnittker), who finished third.

The Shady Daisy stake, for three-year-old pacing fillies, was split with each division carrying a purse of $67,318.

Joe and Joann Thomson's Freezer Cash registered a 1:54.2, pacesetting victory in the first division. The Cam's Card Shark filly cut fractions of 28, 57.2, 1:26 en route to a one length win with Manzi at the reins. Sent postward as the heavy favorite, the trainee of Mike Russo returned a win mutuel of $2.60. Show Time (Ron Pierce) got a rail trip behind the winner to earn the place spot and Born Storyteller (Brian Sears) held gamely for third, two and one-half lengths off the winner.

The second division was taken by Rudolph, Rudolph Stables and Owen's Felicia Scott at odds of 9-5. The daughter of Cam's Card Shark, who is trained by Ross Croghan and was driven by Yannick Gingras, finished two lengths ahead of her nearest rival in 1:55.1. Second went to Artistic Hanover (Cat Manzi), who finished one-half length ahead of the third place finisher, Digga Digga (Patrick Berry).

Two-year-old pacing fillies were in the spotlight in two $48,000 divisions of the Molly Pitcher stake.

In the first division, Cat Manzi guided Thomas Dillon and Walter Hight's Public Life to a one and three-quarter length win in 1:57.3. The Steve LeBlanc-trained daughter of Life Sign closed as the odds-on favorite and returned $3.60. Second went to Delightful Hope (David Miller) and the show spot was taken by Ideal Weather (Yannick Gingras).

White Birch Farm's Darlin's Delight won the second division with 1:54.3 with Yannick Gingras. The Jeffrey Stafford-trained daughter of Bettor's Delight drew clear to a three and one-quarter length score and paid $4.00. Knock Yourself Out (George Brennan) nailed down the place spot and it was another six and one-half lengths back to Winbak Zoom (David Miller) in third.


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