Updated on 09/17/2011 10:07AM

Servis wants change only in weather


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - John Servis is one of the few trainers in the Northeast who is sad to see the winter come to an end.

From Jan. 1 though Tuesday, the Philadelphia Park-based trainer won 18 races from 60 starters (.30 winning percentage), including five stakes. His stable has earned $446,391.

Servis hopes only the temperatures change when spring arrives on Friday, as he will seek to continue his success in a pair of Grade 3, $100,000 stakes this weekend at Aqueduct. Servis will send out Ladyecho in Saturday's Cicada for 3-year-old fillies and Pupil in Sunday's Next Move Handicap for older fillies and mares.

In last year's Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes in New York, Ladyecho finished a well-beaten sixth behind Roar Emotion. In two starts this year, both sprints, Ladyecho won the Marshua Stakes at Laurel and the Dearly Precious over Aqueduct's inner track.

"If you go back and really look at her form and throw out her two-turn races, her form is pretty incredible," Servis said Wednesday from his Philadelphia Park barn. "She got beat a nose to [Forever Partners], who came back to be second in a Grade 1," - the Spinaway - "and she hasn't lost since then sprinting."

Servis noted that Ladyecho got a big sheet number in the Marshua, and said, "she bounced off of that and still won the Dearly Precious after stumbling leaving the gate. She's going into this race really good, I expect her to run a big race."

Ladyecho will take on a field that includes Roar Emotion, Boxer Girl, Cyber Secret, Leniently, Search for a Cure, and possibly Southern Smoke and Xtra Heart.

Already this year Servis has saddled three different older fillies and mares to stakes victories. While Pupil may be the least accomplished of the trio that includes Zonk and Martha's Music, she is the one Servis is the highest on. Pupil has three wins and six seconds in nine career starts and is coming off a three-length victory in the Maryland Racing Media Handicap at Laurel.

"I can tell you she's still got a whole lot left in the tank," Servis said. "I've had trouble getting to the bottom of her as far as getting her to give me everything she's got. Her last race was a step in the right direction. She's trained better since that race so I'm hoping the light went on and she's ready to put it all together. If she is, then you're going to see a nice horse. She's got a world of ability I just haven't gotten it out of her yet."

Pupil will take on a field that includes Smok'n Frolic, who beat Pupil in last fall's Grade 2 Cotillion Handicap, Ellie's Moment, Kiss a Miss, Ms. Rapunzel, and possibly Run for Joy, Short Note, and Database.

Stewart Elliott, battling for leading rider at Philadelphia Park, comes in to ride both Servis horses this weekend.

The winter was not without adversity for Servis. Zonk, who won the Grade 3 Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct, popped a splint when beaten by Xtra Heat in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap. She has recently resumed training and is being pointed to the Bed o' Roses Handicap here on April 19.

Also, Servis said that in late February he had a virus in his barn that affected 15 of the 40 horses he trains. "Luckily, Ladyecho and Pupil haven't been affected," he said.

Pick six handle rises

The decision to move the pick six wager to the last six races on the card has paid instant dividends for the New York Racing Association. For years, the pick six bet was on races 3 through 8.

In the first three days, March 12-14, handle on the bet increased 18.7 percent, from $151,739 to $180,066, compared to last year. Ontrack handle on the wager was up 21.8 percent.

On Saturday, when there was a $37,522 carryover heading into the card, the total pick six pool was $221,080. The year before, when there was no carryover, the pool was $95,267. Handle on Sunday's pick six was down slightly to $81,388, compared to $83,265 a year ago.

As anticipated, the added revenue has come from West Coast horseplayers, who now have more time to play the wager, according to NYRA vice-president Bill Nader.

Nader said that handle on the pick four increased 6.2 percent to $873,609 during the first week of the pick six change. "We were hoping not just to see an increase in the pick six, but also in the pick four and that's held true," he said.

- Jockey Richard Migliore took off his last two mounts Wednesday after he developed swelling in an ankle. He apparently banged his ankle in the gate before the start of the sixth, a race he won aboard 1-5 favorite Golden Damsel.