11/13/2011 8:31AM

Roll With Joe wins $401k Messenger, retires

Mike Lizzi
Roll With Joe and driver Ron Pierce cruise to victory in the 56th edition of the Messenger at Yonkers Raceway

YONKERS, NY - Roll With Joe, driven by Ron Pierce, surprised no one Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $401,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-olds.

In his retirement soiree, "Joe" rolled, romping in the 56th edition of the final jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown by eight widening lengths in 1:52.4.

Leaving from post position No. 3 as the minimum-allowed-by-law 1-20 favorite, harness racing’s richest horse of 2011 was in play early.

However, he was stuffed into a seat behind New York Sire Stakes champ Mojo Terror (Brian Sears), who found a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. Mojo Terror--one of two geldings in the six-horse field--rated a 29-second next interval (:56.4 half), while Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube) was taking out of fifth.

On the third turn, it was time for "Joe" to go. Pierce vacated the pocket, soon after ending what suspense this race may have offered. Roll With Joe had a pair of lengths at the 1:23.4 three-quarters, then opened to 4 1/2 lengths turning for home.

He was wrapped up from there, wrapping up in career at the same time. Sea Venture (Jason Bartlett)--the other gelding--won the scramble for second, with Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (Pat Lachance) third. Keystone Velocity, Mojo Terror and a trailing-throughout Rollwithitharry (Jim Morrill Jr.) completed the order of cashers/finishers.

Roll With Joe, a son of 1994 Horse of the Year (and Messenger winner) Cam's Card Shark, ended his season with six wins, four seconds a pair of thirds in 14 starts. Tonight's stakes is added to the Meadowlands Pace and Battle of the Brandywine on the racing résumé. The $200,500 payday (pay night?) increased his seasonal account to $1,649,725 for co-owners (breeder) Winbak Farm, Blue Chip Bloodstock, Stephen Demeter and Not To Worry Stable.

For the pari-mutuel portion of this saga, he returned $2.10. The exacta paid $14.20, with the triple returning $78.50.

Where to begin post-race?

"He's as good and as professional as any horse I’ve driven," said Pierce, who won this race for a third time. "I let him settle early, but once the horse (Keystone Velocity) came to the outside, it was time to move.

"I've never sat behind him when he wasn't on his game, and that a credit to (trainer) Ed (Hart). I hope he has another one like him for me."

"I can't say enough about this colt," Hart said. "He's been a once-in-a-lifetime horse for me. I always knew he had the talent, but to go in all the major races and race the way he has, it's been just unbelievable"

Now, it's Roll With Joe, Phase 2, as he's off to Blue Chip Farms in Wallkill, NY. There, he gets to replace his full brother, Bettor's Delight, who's being moved to Ontario.

"We couldn't have picked a better way for 'Joe' to end his racing career,” Tom Grossman, Blue Chip's owner, said.  "We wanted to bring him here (Yonkers) to showcase him in New York in such a prestigious race.

"I just came back from Harrisburg with about a half-million dollars in mares for him."