11/02/2013 9:33PM

Yonkers: Ronny Bugatti pulls off the upset in $450k Messenger

Mike Lizzi
Ronny Bugatti (2) more than doubled his career earnings with the Messenger win.

The $450,000 Messenger final at Yonkers Raceway attracted some strong 3-year-old talent. When the original group was entered for the prestigious third leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, few could have figured that New York bred Ronny Bugatti would be crowned champion.

As expected, Word Power was hustled to the front ahead of Ronny Bugatti. Elimination winners Sunfire Blue Chip and Lucan Hanover, handcuffed with posts seven and eight respectively, left looking for tucks and would come away third and sixth.

The quarter went on the board in a reasonable 27 1/5 and just off the second turn Sunfire Blue Chip was called on to begin his long uncovered journey, providing live cover for Lucan Hanover. With a slow half of only 56 4/5, driver George Brennan had to feel comfortable with Word Power. He remained in charge past three quarters in 1:23 3/5 as a pesky Sunfire Blue Chip applied light pressure.

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Despite the reasonable fractions, Word Power began to give way at the head of the lane, opening up the race for a host of pursuers. Ronny Bugatti and driver Jason Bartlett scooted up the cones and held off a stubborn Sunfire Blue Chip by a head in 1:51 4/5, a track record for 3-year-old geldings.

Twilight Bonfire was third.

“It feels good,” said Bartlett, a Yonkers raceway regular who picked up the drive when David Miller opted for Lucan Hanover. “I didn’t think it would be that close coming around the last turn, but Goerge’s (Brennan) horse kind of stalled and that allowed Yannick (Gingras, Sunfire Blue Chip) to gain momentum.”

Ronny Bugatti (Art Major-Bet Your Life) paid $14.80 to win for owners Eric Prevost, Bridget McNeese and Thomas Haughton. The Allan Johnson trainee more than doubled his career earnings to $365,058 with the $225,000 payday.

From the moment Charisma Hanover assumed the lead, the $178,684 Lady Maud final was pretty much decided. With no pressure throughout the mile, she cruised along to a rather easy stakes record victory.

Charisma Hanover made the front over Certified Ideal well before the 27 3/5 quarter call. They were followed in alignment by Handsoffmycupcake, Antigua Hanover and Scandalous Hanover.

Driver Yannick Gingras and Charisma Hanover were able to get a rather soft half in 56 2/5 as second choice Scandalous Hanover edged off the cones from fifth. Driver and horse continued along uncontested on the lead past the half in 1:24 while Certified Ideal chased along from the pocket.

In the stretch, Charisma Hanover pulled away with ease, crossing the wire 3 1/2 lengths the best in 1:52. Certified Ideal outmuscled Scandalous Hanover and Handsoffmycupcake for the place spot.

“When the half popped up in 56 2/5, I felt pretty good from there,” said Gingras. “I thought it was her race to lose and drove her that way.”

Trained by Ron Burke, Charisma Hanover ($2.90) won for the 11th time in 17 starts this year. She has earned $469,169 for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC.