Yonkers, NY --- Jason Bartlett won five races Saturday night...oh, including a stakes race of substance.
Mike Lizzi photo Ronny Bugatti defeated Sunfire Blue Chip to win the 58th Messenger Stakes on Saturday night at Yonkers Raceway.
Leaving from post position No. 2 as the one of the two geldings in the group (Lucan Hanover), Ronny Bugatti made the first lead before yielding to 11-10 choice Word Power (George Brennan).
While that was happening, last week's two elimination winners, Sunfire Blue Chip and Lucan Hanover (Dave Miller), leaving from posts 7 and 8, respectively, were looking for seats.
Sunfire Blue Chip found one in third, while there was no room at the inn for Lucan Hanover.
Word Power made the lead just after a :27.1 opening quarter-mile, It was in turn two that Sunfire Blue Chip made move two, going after the lead toward a soft :56.4 half.
Word Power and Sunfire Blue Chip threw it down in a :26.4 third quarter (1:23.3), with Word Power taking a length-and-a-quarter lead into the lane.
Despite the brutal trip, Sunfire Blue Chip put away the leader, but could not stall a rival with the better trip. Ronny Bugatti ducked inside and out-gamed Sunfire Blue Chip by a head in 1:51.4...a track record for 3-year-old pacing geldings.
Twilight Bonfire (Tim Tetrick), next-to-last early, rallied for third, with an out-every-step Lucan Hanover and Odds On Equuleus (Corey Callahan) coming away with the minor spoils. Lonewolf Currier (Brian Sears), Good Day Mate (Eric Goodell) and a tiring Word Power completed the order.
For Ronny Bugatti, an Art Major gelding trained by Allan Johnson for co-owners Eric Prevost, Bridget McNeese and Tom Haughton, he returned $14.80 (fourth choice) for his third win in 15 seasonal starts (all wins in last four starts). The exacta paid $93.50, the triple returned $652 and the superfecta paid $1,274.
“It's great to win a race like this,” Bartlett--who grabbed the drive when Miller stayed with Lucan Hanover--said . “I didn’t think it would be that close coming around the last turn, but George’s (Brennan) horse (Word Power) stalled and that allowed Yannick (Gingras and Sunfire Blue Chip) to gain momentum.
"He gets around this track very well and we beat a talented horse."
The $225,000 winner's share more than double Ronny Bugatti career earnings, which now stand at $365,058.
The 13-race handle was a season-high $1,061,228 the second seven-figure handle in as many nights.