05/23/2014 5:46PM

Yonkers: Stevensville goes for Rooney upset

Sean Hamrock
Stevensville will tackle the undefeated He's Watching on Saturday at Yonkers Raceway.

All eyes will be on the undefeated He’s Watching as he makes his 3-year-old debut in the Art Rooney elimination at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night. The first rich test for colt pacers splits 11 horses into two divisions, meaning 10 others, including the Ray Schnittker trained Stevensville, are hoping to cash big in the $300,000 final slated for May 31.

Stevensville earned $116,289 as a 2-year-old while switching between major and minor stakes. After the promising campaign, where he compiled a 4-4-1 record in 14 starts, Stevensville took the winter off and certainly matured. He closed well to be fourth on May 4 at Pocono and followed that up with a blistering 1:50 2/5 score in a Stallion Stakes race over the same surface.

The winning mile at Pocono was so impressive that driver Tim Tetrick agreed to give up some of his drives at the Meadowlands to head to Yonkers for the drive. “I was originally going to drive a couple of horses, but it just didn’t work out,” said Tetrick on the fact that his ninth race assignment behind Stevensville was his only drive. “I was very impressed with him (at Pocono). He was really good last year too but just had some bad luck. He’s fast and can follow horses all day.”

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While Stevensville is coming off a strong mile, he will have to overcome the handicap of starting from the outside in a field of six. But the veteran trainer Schnittker was hardly worried.

“He is very good on a half,” said Schnittker about the track size at Yonkers. “You don’t have to worry about having him on the gate. Last year he was hot, but we opened him up so he can see and that really helped him. When I took him out in his first qualifier he was much easier to hold.”

Schnittker, who co-owns Stevensville with Paul Bordogna and Ryan Miller, believes his horse has all the qualities of a top horse and has staked him accordingly. Should the son of Somebeachsomewhere-Wild West Show race well in the Rooney, he’ll aim for the Meadowlands Pace in July at the Meadowlands.

On Saturday, Stevensville not only drew the worst post in his elimination but must also face He’s Watching (post two). Undefeated in eight starts, He’s Watching qualified twice at Mohawk Racetrack (1:53 2/5 & 1:52 1/5) in preparation for his first start of 2014. The David Menary trainee raced exclusively in New York as a freshman and won three races at Yonkers in the process.

The four others signed on for the first $40,000 Rooney elimination (in post position order) are: Unlocked, Forty Five Red, Gold Rocks and Bondi Hanover.

The second elimination is a five-horse field led by All Bets Off. The Ron Burke-trained son of Bettor’s Delight has earned just shy of $200k in his career and finished a good second in 1:48 2/5 at Pocono against older foes in his last start. He will start from post three with Matt Kakaley in the bike.

Rounding out the second elimination from the rail out is Ideal Fashion, Some Playa, Thereisapaceforus and Maxi Bon.

The 13-race Saturday night card also features two five-horse eliminations of the $164,744 Lismore series for sophomore pacing fillies. The top four finishers in each elimination of both series advance to the finals.

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