10/22/2014 5:06PM

Yonkers: Oakes has Luck Be Withyou ready for $500K Messenger

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Mayra Escamilla
Luck Be Withyou (2) just got up to win the Messenger elimination on October 18.

The racing season hasn’t panned out as well as expected for Luck Be Withyou, last year’s Breeders Crown champion for 2-year-old pacing colts. The son of Western Ideal has had his share of luckless trips thus far, but hopes to turn it around in a big way on Saturday in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes final at Yonkers Raceway.

“We gave him a month off after the Cane and qualified him back,” said Chris Oakes, trainer of Luck Be Withyou. “He qualified strong and then he got an easy race at Yonkers. Going into last week I expected him to be good and he was.”

Indeed Luck Be Withyou captured the single elimination for the Messenger, a race to reduce the field by just one to the octet on Saturday night. “He got around the turns just fine,” said Oakes.

That wasn’t the case earlier this year when Luck Be Withyou competed in the Millstein Memorial at Northfield Park. “He was running in on the turns,” Oakes said. “That’s a problem when you have to lose ground on four turns, but he raced well.”

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the Messenger Stakes on Saturday - LIVE from Yonkers Raceway on DRF!]

Since then the trainer has changed the shoeing on the colt and the results have been encouraging.

Luck Be Withyou faces a solid field from post five with driver Tim Tetrick aboard. The Messenger, the closing jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown, will go as race six of 13 on the stellar stakes card at Yonkers on Saturday night.

“I’m concerned with McWicked and Brett’s (Miller, driver of Lyonssomewhere) colt. I think he raced him easy last week,” said Oakes.

Indeed McWicked, a winner in nine of 17 starts this year, appears to have the profile of a solid small-track horse. He jetted home from an impossible spot in last week’s trials and likely will try to be a bit more forwardly placed in the final. David Miller has the assignment again behind the Casie Coleman-trained colt. McWicked leaves from post four.

Driver Brett Miller will guide Cane Pace winner Lyonssomewhere from post three. The Jimmy Takter-trained colt went wire-to-wire while scoring in the Cane at Tioga Downs in a spirited 1:49 4/5 mile. What was notable about the effort was his instant acceleration, grabbing command from post seven in a 26-second opening quarter. Lyonssomewhere generated the same kind of early speed in the Little Brown Jug and led the race throughout until making a break on the final turn.

Lyonssomewhere drew post eight in a prep race for the Messenger and last week’s trial at Yonkers. He raced evenly while uninvolved in both events.

Art Rooney Pace winner All Bets Off has proven a half-mile specialist throughout the year for trainer Ron Burke. The son of Bettors Delight drew post six for the Messenger final and has Matt Kakaley, his regular pilot in tow. Last week All Bets Off finished off the board for the first time in 14 starts this season, but Burke felt only racing once in five weeks was the issue.

“When he misses a bunch of weeks he’ll throw in a clunker,” said Burke. “He’s a good little horse and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t race well on Saturday.”

All Bets Off is coupled in the wagering with Forty Five Red (post 8) the runner-up in last week’s elimination.

The Messenger is the second leg of an all-stakes $20,000 guaranteed pick five pool. Post time for the card is slated for 7:10 p.m., with the Messenger expected to go behind the gate at 9:14 p.m.