Jason Bartlett was the driving star, Scott Blackler was the training star and Scott Dillon was the winning owner as they all teamed up for two victories in the first leg of the Sagamore Hill Racing Series for three-and four-year-old colts and geldings at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday, March 8. Driver Greg Grismore also had two wins in the Sagamore Hill.
A heavy downpour stopped just before the races began (track rated “good”), but high winds made for difficult conditions throughout the night. Bartlett’s first winner came with Asbury Juke, who pulled first-over before the half and wore down pace-setting Real Platinum (Stephane Bouchard) to win by two lengths in 1:57.3 Real Platinum set fractions of 29.4, 59.2 and 1:28. Asbury Juke looked him in the eye at the three-quarters and pulled away in the stretch with Real Platinum holding the place. Basilio Blue Chip (Joshua Marks) finished third despite making a break.
Jason Bartlett said: “This horse had been a little sick and I had to pull him a little earlier than I wanted to. But he was real good tonight on a very windy night.”
The 9-5 second choice, Asbury Juke, a four-year-old gelding by Artsplace, won his third race in nine starts for seasonal earnings of $21,020 for trainer Blackler and owner Dillon of Anson, Maine.
Bartlett’s second winner came with Herzon, who was parked to the quarter in 28.3, made the top through fractions of 58.4 and 1:28.4, before coming home in 29.2 (on a very windy night) to win for fun by five-and-a-half lengths in 1:58.1. Camityourinmyway (Greg Merton) slipped out at the three-quarters to gain the place and Aritsotle (Pat Berry) finished third at 53-1 despite a break.
Jason Bartlett knows he has a talented horse here: “I raced this horse last year and he has a lot of speed. He’s not yet where he was last year – he was a little steppy tonight. But he was a little better than he’s been and he got the job done tonight.”
The 8-5 second choice, Herzon, a four-year-old horse by Cams Card Shark, won his first race of the year in seven starts for seasonal earnings of $10,990 for the aforementioned trainer/owner combination of Blackler and Dillon.
Eric Abbatiello won a division that made many Yonkers old-timers happy as he went down the road with the appropriately named Red Man A to win in 1:59.3. Red Man cut fractions from post one of 28.3, 59 and 1:28.4 to win by three-quarters-of-a-length over the even-money favorite Crystal Guy (Jack Baggit, Jr.). Chocolate Crush (Jeff Gregory) stayed third on the inside to finish third.
Many of you know that Eric’s father, for whom the horse is named, is the legendary Carmine Abbatiello, known for decades as the Red Man (for his bright red colors), who often dominated the driver standings at Yonkers, among other places. Eric Abbatiello was happy with his horse’s performance: “Red Man is a nice horse. When he’s good, he’s good and since I got some relatively slow fractions [middle half of 1:00.1] tonight, we were able to get the win.”
The 2-1 second choice, Red Man, a four-year-old horse by Western Ideal, won his second race in eight starts for seasonal earnings of $10,574 for trainer/driver Eric Abbatiello and owner/breeder Marie Abbatiello, Eric’s mother, of Colts Neck, New Jersey.
Perhaps the most impressive Sagamore Hill winner was Art’s Image (Stephane Bouchard), who went wire-to-wire from post four in 1:57 to win by three in the fastest Sagamore division. Art’s Image, who won earlier this year at the Meadowlands in 1:51.2, cut fractions of 27.4, 57.1 and 1:26.4. He coasted home in 30.1 while never challenged. Amerifin Idol (Jordan Stratton) came from second-over to be second. Real Town (Greg Grismore) sat the pocket and finished third.
Bouchard knows he has a good one in Art’s Image: “He was pretty good tonight. I took it easy through the first turn, made the lead and never even had to pull the earplugs. The last quarter [30.1] wasn’t fast, but I had a big lead and there was a big wind coming down the stretch.”
The 4-5 favorite, Art’s Image, a four-year-old horse by Artsplace, won his second race in eight starts for seasonal earnings of $26,510 for trainer Nat Varty and owners Adam Victor & Son Stable LLC, Yannick Gingras, Joe Di Scala and Frank Canzone.
If Art’s Image wasn’t the most impressive winner, Victory’s Boy (Greg Merton) might get the award. After pulling first-over from sixth coming to the half, Victory’s Boy wore down pace-setting Launch Angle (Jordan Stratton) and drew off by two lengths in 1:58. Aint No Hearsay (Pat Berry) followed the winner to be second and Launch Angle, who cut fractions of 29.1, 59 and 1:28.1, finished third.
Driver Greg Merton was pleased despite the tough trip: “He was pretty good tonight. There was a very bad wind and he didn’t have an easy trip, but he’s a versatile horse and he knows what to do.”
The 3-1 second choice, Victory’s Boy, a four-year-old gelding by Artsplace, won his fifth race in eight starts for seasonal earnings of $15,687 for trainer John Berger and owner Win For Victory, Inc. of Staten Island, New York.
The other three divisions went to Bob’s Alibi, Cullens Blue Jean (both for Greg Grismore) and Fox Valley Tyrese (Pat Berry). Bob’s Alibi, coming off a win in the Senior Trendsetter Final in 1:51.4 at the Meadowlands, won on the front end at Yonkers in 1:57.4 for the hard-to-beat team of Grismore and trainer Mickey Burke. He’s owned by Sylvia Burke and Weaver Bruscemi LLC of Pennsylvania.
Cullens Blue Jean got a perfect pocket drive by Grismore to win in 1:59 for another hard-to-beat team: trainer Virgil Morgan, Jr. and owner Joseph Muscara of Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania.
Another impressive winner was Fox Valley Tyrese, who made two moves to the lead for Pat Berry and drew off by three-and-a-half lengths in 1:58, with a 29.1 last quarter, the fastest last quarter of the eight Sagamore Hill divisions. He’s trained by Julie Miller for owner South Of The Tracks Rac Inc. of Illinois.
The Sagamore continues for two more legs and the $50,000 added Final on Saturday, March 29.