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Stay Hungry stays Triple Crown course in elims for Messenger Stakes
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - by Frank Drucker, Publicity Director, Empire City at Yonkers Raceway

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Yonkers, NY --- We took a poll and decided there’s only one horse out there with a shot to win the Pacing Triple Crown.

Take a bow, Stay Hungry.

Mike Lizzi photo
Stay Hungry won the Cane Pace in a lifetime best 1:47.3.

Having closed the sale in the $281,000 Cane Pace (life-best 1:47.3) during Hambletonian Day at The Meadowlands, Stay Hungry stays the course, invading Yonkers Raceway Saturday night (Aug. 25) for eliminations of the 63rd Messenger Stakes.

Stay Hungry, a son of 2008 Messenger winner Somebeachsomewhere, drew penultimate post position No. 5 in the second $40,000 elimination. The first four finishers in both elims (races five and six) return for the $500,000 final Saturday night (Sept. 1).

Since there were only eight entrants for Yonkers Trot No. 64, no eliminations were necessary. That half-million-dollar final also goes Sept. 1.

With eight of the 11 participants coming back, the odds are in Stay Hungry’s favor. That said, he landed in by far the tougher division, opposing -- among others -- pole-sitting Springsteen and $30,000 buy-in Jimmy Freight, who starts directly inside of him.

Stay Hungry has danced every dance this season, finishing fourth in the $760,000 final of the North America Cup (Woodbine Mohawk), fourth in the half-million-dollar finale of the Hempt Memorial (Pocono) and third in the $701,830 final of the Meadowlands Pace.

Then came the Cane, where he watched wicked numbers in front of him before rallying from ninth at the three-quarters with a personal :25.4 last stanza.

For the season, Stay Hungry has three wins and three thirds in eight starts, banking $363,530. Tony Alagna trains for co-owners Brad Grant and Irwin Samelman Estate.

“High speed and easy on himself,” driver Doug McNair said. “Start him up and shut him down and he doesn’t fight with you.”

McNair, who has driven Stay Hungry in all but one of his 17 career purse starts, knew right away his escort had the goods.

“From the start, he beat a lot of the best horses.”

Stay Hungry’s frosh season (nine starts, six wins, one second) was highlighted by a win in the $600,000 final of the Breeders Crown at Hoosier (1:50.4). He ended 2017 with a nose defeat in the $411,700 Governor’s Cup (Meadowlands).

As for the Westchester and half-mile-track debut of Stay Hungry, McNair has no concerns.

“(Trainer) Tony (Alagna) sent him over last week with Cat Manzi to work him out, and Tony has always had him tight.”

Stay Hungry is three weeks between starts for Saturday’s race, the same interval -- as McNair noted -- between the Meadowlands Pace and the Cane.

“I just want to see him pace hard through the wire,” McNair said. “Obviously, I think he has a good shot to win no matter how we race him, but just pace hard through the wire.”

Following are the fields for the eliminations of the Messenger.

First elimination: 1. Babes Dig Me, George Brennan, Tony Alagna, 3-1; 2. Wild Bill, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker, 12-1; 3. JK Wildfire, Jason Bartlett, Brett Pelling, 7-2; 4. Topville Olympian, Brian Sears, Chris Oakes, 3-1; 5. Nutcracker Sweet, Jordan Stratton, Jimmy Takter, 3-2.

Second elimination: 1. Springsteen, Brian Sears, Rene Allard, 5-2; 2. Winston, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 8-1; 3. Decoy, Mark MacDonald, Jimmy Takter, 9-1; 4. Jimmy Freight, Louis Roy, Andrew Harris, 9-5; 5. Stay Hungry, Doug McNair, Tony Alagna, 2-1; 6. Kwik Talkin, Jordan Stratton, Rob Harmon, 20-1.

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