09/13/2014 10:35PM

Yonkers: Burke dominates Night of Champions

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Mike Lizzi
All Bets Off cruised home in the NYSS final for 3YO Colts & Geldings.

On a rainy Saturday night in New York, the best 2- and 3-year-olds of both sexes and gaits visited Yonkers Raceway to compete in eight $225,000 Sire Stakes finals. The riches were nicely divided in the early stages between owners, drivers and trainers before Ron Burke, the leading conditioner in the nation took control.

Following a lengthy delay for track maintenance, the first race of the octet got underway with Barn Doll confirming her dominance in the 2-year-old filly trotting division in in the Empire State. Driver Jeff Gregory waited early while others made mistakes on a tricky first turn due to the rain and pounced past the half in 1:01 4/5. Once clear the daughter of Conway Hall scooted away from the field and won easily in 2:00 4/5.

Steven Pratt trained Barn Doll for his wife Nancy, and the Purple Haze Stable.

Another delay preceded the second final, this one for 3-year-old filly pacers. Once the word go was given, Spreester set a modest pace of 29 3/5, 1:00 2/5 and 1:29 1/5 with only token pressure from a first-over Table Talk. In the lane, pocket-sitter It Was Fascination exploded to the front with ease and left Spreester in her wake for the 1:57 2/5 score.

It Was Fascination won for the fourth time in 2014 in 12 starts for trainer Tony Alagna and owners Riverview Racing LLC, Alagna Racing LLC and Bay’s Stable LLC. Brett Miller was in the bike and came away very impressed. “She is a very nice filly,” he said.

The rookie pacing fillies put on quite a show despite only a five-horse betting race because the three horse Ron Burke entry was barred from the wagering. The Burke trio was involved in much of the early action through a quick pace for the conditions in a 56 4/5 half when Bossers Joy closed in with a wide move on the final turn. The Jason Bartlett filly looked home free but favored Mosquito Blue Chip gobbled up the slop in the stretch to get up at the wire in 1:56.

“I was third over and she kind of stalled on me on the final turn,” said driver John Campbell, who was in town for just the one drive. “Once I got into the stretch, she just kept coming and I wore [Bossers Joy] down.”

Mosquito Blue Chip is co-owned and trained by Paul Jessop for Our Three Sons Stable and D. Falcicchio.

At least visually, the star of the Night of Champions was Market Rally in the sophomore filly trot. The talented Ron Burke trainee went to the front and never looked back through fractions of 29 2/5, 58 3/5, 1:27 3/5 and 1:58. Driver Jim Morrill, Jr. barely had to move a muscle during the stellar performance.

A winner of 11 of 22 career races and over $650K lifetime, Market Rally is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stable, Weaver Bruscemi and Panhellenic Stable.

When Crazy Wow behaves he wins, and on Saturday he did everything right, wiring the field of freshman colt and gelding trotters in 2:00 1/5. Driver Dan Rawlings set fractions of 29, 1:00 3/5 and 1:31 while never facing an anxious moment in the victory over Wings Of Royalty, who suffered through a tough uncovered trip.

“I just wanted to get him out of the gate trotting and take it from there,” said Rawlings about his tactics. “I was happy everywhere in the mile.”

Dan O’Mara trains the colt by Crazed for owner Joseph Hess.

Trainer Ron Burke picked up his second win with the 1-9 favored All Bets Off in the 3-year-old colt and gelding pace. Driver Matt Kakaley guided the son of Bettor’s Delight through fractions of 27 4/5, 58 1/5, 1:26 2/5 before cruising under the wire in 1:54.

“He’s just so much better than the other ones in here that it doesn’t matter what he does,” said Kakaley in the winner’s circle.

Burke Racing Stable, Frank Baldachino, Panhellenic Stable and R.Shelswell own All Bets Off, who increased his 2014 earnings to just over $640,000.

The action was nonstop during the rookie colt and gelding pace. Southwind Masimo had the lead before yielding to Betting Exchange, who gave way to a big move from Americanprimetime. After the half in 56 4/5, a fresh challenge came from Berkley, who cleared the lead at 10-1 and would have to deal with Cartoon Daddy in the stretch. The latter would surge past in the late stages for the 1:55 2/5 score.

“I just wanted to put him in play and give him a chance. It was tight, but they left me up,” said driver Kakaley, who made a gutsy move to pull off the pylons at the half and overcame an inquiry to win.

Cartoon Daddy’s win marked the third owning and training victory in Sire Stakes action for Ron Burke, who co-owns the colt with Joseph Di Scala.

As if three wins on the night wasn’t enough, Burke sent out Gural Hanover looking for his eighth straight in the 3-year-old colt and gelding trot. Things were looking dicey with Flyhawk El Durado cruising along through soft fractions of 28 1/5, 58 and 1:27, but that one took a bad step at the head of the lane and left the race in the hands of Jim Morrill, Jr behind Gural Hanover.

Morrill easily avoided trouble and guided the son of Crazed to a 1:57 3/5 score, increasing Burke’s total to a quartet and the Panhellenic Stable, who co-owns the winner with Burke, Weaver Bruscemi and Little E LLC, to a robust three wins on the card, and trainer Burke ended up with six wins on the 13 race card.

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