It was as uneventful an eight-hole trip as Missile J (Brian Sears, $2,60, part of entry) could possibly have wished for Saturday night (May 28), winning Yonkers Raceway’s $300,000 Art Rooney Pace.
A week after winning the lone, $40,000 elim for the 26th Rooney, Missile J was blind-drawed behind the eight-ball in a field of two three-year-old colts and six geldings.
He was in play early over a track that was moisturized by a fair amount of pre-card rain. Missile J fell into an open three-hole behind pole-sitting entrymate Artmagic (George Brennan) and Rodeo Rock (Dan Dube), who left a bit wide from post position No. 2 to make sure Missile J couldn’t get around him early.
Artmagic had things his own way over the “good” surface, getting a :27.3 opening quarter-mile and :56.1 intermission.
The leader then lost his closest pursuer, as Rodeo Rock gave up the ghost chasing a :27.2 third quarter (1:23.3). Missile J had taken out of third by then, getting into second and picking up the scent of the leader.
Artmagic owned a length and a half lead into the lane, but his night was about to end. Missile J and a handful of closers rolled by, with Missile J drawing out to win by two and a quarter lengths in 1:53. Second — at 37-1 — went to a much-improved Tailgunner Hanover (Ray Schnittker), with Yankee Artillery (Jordan Stratton), Artmagic and Manny (Brent Holland) settling for the remainder.
No Shame Blue Chip (Tyler Buter), Rodeo Rock and a breaking Tap Into Power (Jason Bartlett) completed the order.
For Missile J, an unraced-at-two, $100,000 American Ideal gelding co-owned by Ken Jacobs’ KJ Stables and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables and trained by Linda Toscano, the win was his fifth (consecutive) in eight seasonal starts. The exacta paid $51.50, with the triple returning $194.50.
“Last week was his first [half-mile] start and he was a bit aggressive,” Sears said. “Tonight, he was more relaxed and the trip, from an eight-hole, certainly worked out. I was happy with him in the elimination and happier tonight.”
“He just wasn’t ready [last season],” Toscano said. “We had to take our time with him, and it’s begun to pay off. The Rooney was always where we wanted to try him. He has [New York] Sire Stakes and open stakes on the schedule, and tonight was a good first step.”
Sears won the Rooney for a fourth time (Badlands Hanover-2008, Pet Rock-2012, In the Arsenal-2015), matching the number of one John Campbell.
The race began in 1989, one year after the death of Art Rooney Sr.
Kryptos Steps Up To Win Lismore Pace
In late February, Kryptos (Jordan Stratton, $4.90) was in racing in ‘non-winners of twos.’ She obviously grew up in a hurry, the latest example coming Saturday night in winning Yonkers Raceway’s $100,000 Lismore Pace for three-year-old fillies.
Sitting chilly early from post position No. 2 over a “good” oval, Kryptos watched Soft Idea (Jason Bartlett) out-leave her five inside foes, getting the lead before a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. Apple Bottom Jeans (Montrell Teague), the scourge of Delaware, yielded for the pocket, with Cut And Paste (Brian Sears) a pole-sitting third.
Soft Idea found a :56.3 half and 1:25, with Kryptos out and moving from fourth, chased by slight 7-5 choice Dime A Dance (George Brennan).
The leader was about to wear out her welcome in and out of the final turn, with Kryptos going by early in the lane. That one continued her move, getting the needed jump on a passing-lane-diving Apple Bottom Jeans. The former, as the second choice in the 12th Lismore, whipped the hard-charging latter by a neck in 1:53.3, with Dime A Dance third. Cut And Paste was fourth, with a tiring Soft Idea and an outrun Rock Me Baby (John Campbell) completing the six-pack.
For Kryptos, an unraced-at-two, $24,000 daughter of Somebeachsomewhere co-owned by trainer Nik Drennan (as Drennan Stable) along with Joseph Davino and Brad Shackman, the win was her eighth in nine seasonal starts. The exacta paid $20.60, with the triple returning $44.20.
“It’s the first time I’ve driven her, and Nik [Drennan] just said to give her a clean trip,” Stratton said, ironically with his face covered in mud.
Saturday's undercard included a pair of $45,000 Opens won by trotting mare Allerage Star (Dan Dube, $10.40) in 1:55.1 and male pacer Outrageous Art (Jason Bartlett, $11.60) in 1:52.
(With files from Yonkers Raceway)