05/24/2017 4:31PM

Yonkers: Downbytheseaside in a good spot to win Rooney Final

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Mike Lizzi
Downbytheseaside won his Art Rooney elimination in 1:52 2/5.

Brian Brown was pleased with Downbytheseaside’s win in last weekend’s Art Rooney Pace elimination and the trainer hopes the colt can be even better in Saturday’s $300,000 final.

Downbytheseaside, the 6-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s race for 3-year-old male pacers, won the lone Rooney elimination by 1-1/4 lengths over Miso Fast in 1:52 2/5. It was the colt’s second win in two tries this year, but Brown thought the horse’s finish lacked its usual pop.

“I thought he was pretty good; he got just a little bit weak late,” Brown said. “He hadn’t raced in two weeks, but I trained him really hard on (the previous) Tuesday. Was he short? Did I over-train him? We’re trying to figure out all of the reasons it could be.”

Another possibility is Downbytheseaside was suffering from the lingering effects of a foot abscess.

“He had popped a gravel and the track was hard,” Brown said. “I wonder if the foot didn’t get to bothering him a little late in the mile and he just went enough to win.”

Downbytheseaside, usually stabled with Brown at his central Ohio base at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, remained with caretaker Toni Dale and driver David Miller in New Jersey to prep for this weekend’s Rooney final. The horse jogged Tuesday and Brown received an encouraging report from Miller.

“David was happy,” Brown said. “He jogged him and the horse had his tail up over his back and was excited and playing. And he said the horse jogged real sound. So we think he’s going to be even better Saturday.”

Downbytheseaside won eight of 13 races last year, earned $577,106 in purses, and paced the fastest mile in history by a 2-year-old on a half-mile track (1:50) in addition to equaling the world record of 1:49 for a 2-year-old on a mile oval.

His wins included the Governor’s Cup and divisions of the International Stallion, Bluegrass, and Standardbred stakes. He finished second to Dan Patch Award-winner Huntsville in the Breeders Crown and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.

The colt is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocco, Richard Lombardo, and Diamond Creek Racing.

In last weekend’s Rooney elimination, Downbytheseaside started from post nine in the second tier of a nine-horse field. The race, from which the top-eight finishers advanced to the final, featured four different leaders in the opening half-mile. Downbytheseaside was the fourth of the leaders, using a three-wide move to the front as the field reached the midpoint in 55 4/5.

“It was a lot more action than I expected when you’re only eliminating one horse,” Brown said. “They raced pretty hard. I actually wound up in the worst spot getting to the front.”

Downbytheseaside held off hard-charging Miso Fast, with Stealth Bomber third. That group was followed by Summer Side, Mac’s Jackpot, Funknwaffles, Henry The Dragon, and Rollin About in advancing to the final. Heaven’s Gait, who went off stride, was eliminated.

In the final, Downbytheseaside will start from post No. 3 with Miller in the sulky. Miso Fast is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line and will leave from post two with Matt Kakaley driving for trainer Ron Burke.

“I like where we’re at,” Brown said. “I think we’re in pretty good shape. We’ll just show up and race.”

Downbytheseaside’s connections decided to skip the second-round of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes to compete in the Rooney. There were several reasons: the colt’s prowess on a half-mile track, the money, and the chance to avoid a confrontation with Huntsville ahead of next month’s Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk.

As it turned out, Brown-trained Fear The Dragon upset Huntsville in last Sunday’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes action.

“This is working out pretty good,” Brown said. “If we can get it done Saturday it will have worked out perfectly.”

As for the future in the 3-year-old male pacing division, Brown expects it to be a season-long battle.

“We’ve had like two races so far; I don’t think we’ve even begun to see how this is going to work out,” Brown said. “Even though Huntsville wasn’t as good Sunday as he has been, I don’t expect him that way next time. We had a great weekend, but I don’t expect it to be that way all the time. It’s going to get a lot tougher.

“I think there will be trading wins all summer long. I don’t look for anyone to stand out. I hope I’ve got two that can, but I don’t expect it.”

Another horse that could see improvement in Saturday’s Rooney final is Funknwaffles. The gelding, who was last year’s New York Sire Stakes champion and a track-record-holder at Yonkers, was one of the elimination’s early leaders and remained second at three-quarters before dropping back to sixth. Trainer John Butenschoen said the horse might have had an issue with his breathing.

“We were disappointed in where we finished but there might have been an excuse for it,” said Butenschoen, who trains the horse for Crawford Farms Racing. “But he came out of the race good and he played out in the field hard (Sunday) and (Monday) before we jogged him. Hopefully we can do well and forget that he finished sixth there Saturday.”

Even though he was disappointed with the outcome, Butenschoen enjoyed the action in the elimination.

“That was a good race,” he said. “There was action off the wings and people coming at different points of the mile. They were racing the whole way. It’s a lot of fun to watch half-mile track racing when they race them like that. You had a lot of horses that people were high on and expecting to do something and it showed on the racetrack. Everyone was giving them a chance to see what they had.”

Following is the Rooney field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line. The Rooney is race eight on Saturday’s card with an estimated 9:30 p.m. post time.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML

1-Mac’s Jackpot-Jason Bartlett-Jim Campbell-9/1

2-Miso Fast-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-4/1

3-Downbytheseaside-David Miller-Brian Brown-6/5

4-Rollin About-Brent Holland-Erv Miller-20/1

5-Funknwaffles-Brian Sears-John Butenschoen-6/1

6-Summer Side-Tim Tetrick-Ray Schnittker-8/1

7-Henry The Dragon-Montrell Teague-Clyde Francis-8/1

8-Stealth Bomber-Brett Miller-Tony O’Sullivan-12/1

Saturday’s Yonkers card also includes the $140,770 Lismore Pace final for 3-year-old female pacers. Agent Q and Big City Betty won eliminations last weekend. The Lismore is race six with an estimated 8:50 p.m. post time.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML

1-Warrawee Sunshine-Tim Tetrick-Chris Ryder-6/1

2-Caviart Cherie-Jason Bartlett-Noel Daley-9/1

3-Caviart Ally-Andy McCarthy-Noel Daley-5/1

4-Agent Q-David Miller-Aaron Lambert-5/2

5-Big City Betty-Jim Marohn Jr.-Steve Salerno-5/1

6-Gotthisone Hanover-George Brennan-Ron Burke-12/1

7-Tequila Monday-Brian Sears-Chris Oakes-3/1

8-Ashlee’s Spitfire-Daniel Dube-Chris Ryder-20/1

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com