08/18/2017 8:00PM

Vernon Downs: Hitman Hill quickest in New York Sire Stakes

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Hitman Hill is out of Fox Valley Shaker, who won the 2004 Sweetheart final at the Meadowlands

Hitman Hill, Casual Cool, and Mr Profeta won the trio of $37,266 New York Sire Stakes tests for 2-year-old colt pacers on the Zweig undercard Friday night at Vernon Downs, with Hitman Hill turning in a 1:50 4/5 mile over the sloppy surface.

Driven by Brett Miller in the first division, Hitman Hill was first-over while favorite Courtly Choice (Mark MacDonald) was carving out panels of 26, 54 3/5, and 1:23.  Despite the outside journey against the public choice, Hitman Hill surged into the lead in the stretch and went on to win by a pair of lengths, just missing the track record for a rookie pacing gelding by two-fifths of a second.  Keystone Tenacious (Jim Marohn Jr.) finished second and Topville Olympian (Yannick Gingras) took third.

Despite the fact that Hitman Hill made his career debut in the second-level Excelsior Series (a 1:55 1/5 win at Saratoga on August 2), Miller noted that the horse came highly-recommended and didn't disappoint.

"He came here under high regards," offered Miller.  "Matt Kakaley, who drove him at Saratoga, and (trainer) Chris Oakes both told me this colt is for real, and he is for real.  Honestly, there was no end to him.  When he went across the wire, he could have went more.  When horses are young like this, you do have to be very careful with them.  You don't want to get them too tired when they're making their first, second, or third lifetime starts, but he did that as easy as it looked."

Hitman Hill is an American Ideal gelding owned by Tom Hill and North Fork Racing Stable, and he has earned $26,133 to go with his perfect two-for-two mark.  Bred by Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc., Hitman Hill was a $145,000 purchase at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is out of the Incredible Finale mare Fox Valley Shaker ($427,164), making him a half-brother to five six-figure earners, including Pretty Katherine (Rocknroll Hanover, $525,653).  The 5-1 third choice, Hitman Hill paid $12.80 to win.

In the next group Paprike Blue Chip (Corey Callahan) was in the lead at the 27 4/5 opening quarter, but Casual Cool (Jason Bartlett) popped out of the pocket on the way to the 57 second half and took over command.  Casual Cool would go on to reach three-quarters in 1:25 4/5 and then sprinted home in 26 4/5 to win by a length and a half in 1:52 2/5.  Paprike Blue Chip stayed in second, and I Soar Him First (Marohn Jr.) was the third-place finisher.

Casual Cool had suffered his first career defeat on August 2 at Saratoga, but Bartlett said he was back to his old self tonight.

"Last week (trainer Linda Toscano) had trouble with sickness and stuff, and he was sick and didn't perform like he usually does," noted Bartlett.  "We got in the two-hole, and she said he was good, so I just re-moved him.  He's just a really nice colt and his last quarter is usually his best quarter.  That showed tonight."

Casual Cool, a colt by American Ideal, is Ken Jacobs.  Casual Cool has three victories from four lifetime starts, and he has put away $53,803.  Casual Cool, who was bred by Fair Winds Farm Inc. and brought $165,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale, is the first foal out of the Artiscape mare Sight To See, a three-quarter sister to double millionaire Glowing Report and six-figure earners Urgent Action and Must See (all by Artsplace).  Casual Cool, the 2-1 second favorite, returned $6.70 to win.

Bartlett had 1-4 favorite Jimtastic on the point through fractions of 27 2/5, 57, and 1:26 2/5 in the final flight, but he gave way in the lane, with Mr Profeta (Scott Zeron), who had a three-hole trip throughout, getting up to score by a quarter of a length in 1:54.  American Vision (Miller) rallied from sixth at three-quarters to second at the wire, with My Delight (Jim Morrill Jr.) third.

It was the first career New York Sire Stakes win for Mr Profeta, and Zeron's plan with him worked out as he drew it up.

"He's not a really big horse, and he just felt like that has that quick speed, so I didn't want to come first-up with him," said Zeron.  I just wanted to play the odds and hopefully get out late.  I did, and he did give me that quick foot.  He was full of pace, and I didn't pull the plugs on him, but he got to running in just as I crossed past all the horses.  He didn't see them, so he was locked on the right line, and that's why it got as close as it did."

Roland Mallar trains Mr Profeta, a Roll With Joe colt, for owner-breeder Anatolia Farm LLC.  He is now a two-time victor from six tries overall, and he pushed his bankroll to $29,234.  Mr Profeta is out of the Art Major mare Simply Liz, a full sister to Very Upset Richie ($371,192).  Mr Profeta was the 6-1 third choice and paid $14.00 to win.